September 4, 2023

The Delicate Balancing Act of Conflict Management as a Production Leader

This article is part of our Impact Production Talk series, hosted by NPACT, Women in Nonfiction, and with speakers Michele Calderigi, Tracy Lawrence, and Russell Davis.

Featuring Russell Davis

Russell Davis currently serves as the Chief People Officer at Revolution Entertainment Services. He has a wealth of expertise in leadership, human resources, and professional development. With a strong track record in guiding and nurturing teams, he has successfully implemented strategic initiatives and fostered a culture of growth and excellence.

Conflict is an inevitable part of any workplace – including on and off-set.

As a production leader, your role is not to avoid conflicts, but rather to address and manage them effectively.

Russell: “Conflict is a constant companion in our professional lives, and how we choose to deal with it can significantly impact the team dynamics and overall productivity.”

We'll delve into the art of conflict management as a leader, exploring five conflict resolution strategies, five ways to manage conflicts, and the four basic strategies for resolving conflicts. Additionally, we'll discuss three key approaches to resolving conflict as a leader and finally, unveil the best way to manage conflicts.

How to Resolve Conflict Between crew or staff members

When conflict arises between team members, it's crucial for leaders to adopt a proactive approach.

Here are some practical steps to navigate through these challenging situations:

  • Address the issue head-on: Don't let conflicts fester. Address the problem as soon as possible, preferably in private settings to maintain confidentiality and encourage open communication.
  • Listen actively: Act as a mediator and actively listen to both sides without judgment. Empathy plays a vital role in understanding the perspectives and emotions of the parties involved.
  • Find common ground: Look for shared interests and common goals. Encourage the employees to focus on what unites them rather than what divides them.
  • Encourage open dialogue: Create a safe space for honest conversations where employees can express their concerns and work towards finding mutually agreeable solutions.
  • Implement solutions together: Involve the conflicting parties in the resolution process. This approach promotes ownership and commitment to the agreed-upon solutions.

5 Conflict Resolution Strategies

Conflict resolution requires a toolbox of strategies to employ as situations demand. Here are five effective approaches:

  1. Collaboration: Encourage employees to work together to find win-win solutions. Collaboration fosters creativity and builds stronger relationships within the team.
  2. Compromise: Sometimes, reaching a middle ground is the most practical resolution. Leaders should encourage compromise when both sides are willing to make concessions.
  3. Accommodation: In certain situations, leaders may choose to accommodate one party's needs to maintain harmony and preserve relationships.
  4. Competing: While not the most favorable strategy, leaders may need to use their authority to make a decision that resolves the conflict definitively.
  5. Avoidance: This strategy should be used sparingly, as it may only postpone the conflict and let it escalate. However, in some cases, it can be useful for minor disagreements that might resolve themselves over time.

5 Ways of Managing Conflicts

Apart from resolution strategies, leaders can adopt these five approaches to effectively manage conflicts:

  • Promote Open Communication: Create an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns and opinions without fear of retaliation.
  • Set Clear Expectations: Ensure that job roles, responsibilities, and expectations are well-defined to reduce misunderstandings and potential sources of conflict.
  • Mediation and Training: Invest in conflict resolution training for employees and consider employing an impartial mediator when necessary.
  • Embrace Diversity and Inclusivity: Foster an inclusive culture that celebrates diversity, as varied perspectives can lead to more innovative problem-solving.
  • Recognize and Address Underlying Issues: Conflicts are often symptoms of deeper problems. Addressing the root causes can prevent future conflicts from arising.

3 Ways to Resolve Conflict as a production leader

As a leader, you have a unique role in resolving conflicts. Here are three effective ways to handle these situations:

  1. Lead by example: Demonstrate excellent communication, active listening, and a willingness to address conflicts promptly and constructively.
  2. Be Neutral and Fair: Approach conflicts with an impartial mindset, seeking to understand all perspectives before making a decision.
  3. Encourage a Positive Work Environment: Foster a culture where conflicts are seen as opportunities for growth, not something to be feared or avoided.

The Best Way to Manage Conflict

While there's no one-size-fits-all approach, the best way to manage conflict as a leader is to combine empathy, active listening, and open communication with a focus on collaboration and inclusivity. By embracing conflicts as learning opportunities and handling them with sensitivity and humor, you can foster a harmonious and productive workplace.


Conflict management is a skill that every leader must master. Davis's wise words remind us that conflicts are an integral part of life; it's how we handle them that truly matters. By adopting various conflict resolution strategies, creating a culture of open communication, and embracing diversity, leaders can turn conflicts into steppingstones for team growth and success. So, the next time conflict arises, embrace it with a touch of humor, and let your leadership shine in finding the path to harmony and productivity.

The Revolution Team

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