Book Review

Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader

by Carl E. Runde and Tim A. Flanagan, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, N.J., 2007, 217 pp., $30 hardcover

Authors Carl Runde and Tim Flanagan present today’s leaders with a practical and necessary book that examines the need for skills development in conflict. What school administrator doesn’t deal with some level of conflict on a daily basis? None. Yet how many own a well-tuned skill set for not just coping with conflict but growing through it?

Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader: How You and Your Organization Can Manage Conflict Effectively admittedly helps the reader to begin this development process. Runde and Flanagan write: “We believe that talented leaders make lasting, significant contributions to organizations. When they harness the tremendous upside of conflict while minimizing the potential for harm, the organization will reap benefits perhaps previously unimaginable.” Conflict-competent leaders practice reflective thinking, learn throughout their careers and model effective conflict management skills.

The authors identify five intensity levels related to conflict situations, from level one (differences) to level five (polarization). Of course, no single book or course can adequately cover the complexities of conflict. Countless hours of time can be exhausted dealing with the ramifications of poor conflict management skills.

I have read this book twice. Much of my copy has been underlined, and much has been written in the margins. At a time when administrators need to know so much, conflict management may not seem that important. But it is just such times as these that such skills are most essential. Becoming aConflict Competent Leader would be an effective place to start the dialogue.

Reviewed by Donna McCaw, associate professor of educational leadership, Western Illinois University, McComb, Ill.