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Servant leadership and conflict resolution: a qualitative study

Ravinder Jit (Department of Management, Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Technology, Delhi, India)
Chandra Shekhar Sharma (Department of Commerce, Sri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi, India)
Mona Kawatra (Department of Management, Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies, Delhi, India)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 10 October 2016




The purpose of the present study was to examine the choice of conflict management strategies made by servant leaders.


The present qualitative study uses the method of narrative enquiry within the framework of interpretative phenomenological analysis (Smith et al., 2009) to capture the life experiences as lived.


The study suggests that the servant leaders manifest conflict management styles which are more persuasive, humane and participative. Their chief strategies for resolving subordinate-subordinate conflict are initial diagnosis of the situation; leader’s intervention in facilitating an amicable solution; and impartiality of the leader while effecting resolution of conflict. Diagnosis of the conflict situation, self-restraint, patience, composure and humility of the servant leader have emerged as major leadership characteristics, as well as strategies for dealing with any provocative employee behavior.

Practical implications

Insight provided by this study into alternate strategies for conflict resolution will guide the academicians, working managers and trainers to understand and practice the process of managing conflict in a more humane way.


Despite the presence of a few studies linking leadership style with the choice of conflict resolution strategies, an important gap till now has been the absence of leaders’ personal account of their experiences, reflections and analysis in their choice of conflict resolution strategies. This study seeks to investigate the approach of servant leaders when they handle subordinate-subordinate and superior-subordinate conflict.



Jit, R., Sharma, C.S. and Kawatra, M. (2016), "Servant leadership and conflict resolution: a qualitative study", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 591-612.



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