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Astrid C. Homan, Marleen Redeker and Reinout E. de Vries

Conflicts have been found to often negatively affect the functioning of teams (De Wit et al., 2012), which makes the effective management of conflicts crucial. Because of their influential positions, leaders might hold the key to successful conflict management in teams (Yukl, 2010). We will zoom in on two types of conflict: task and relationship. Whereas relationship conflicts have been found to deteriorate team functioning, task conflicts under some conditions actually benefit team performance (De Wit et al., 2012), which makes understanding when and how to address these frictions in teams highly important. We connect an interpersonal leadership model to the conflict literature, and propose that leaders should adapt their leadership behaviors to the specific conflict that is occurring within the team (Avolio, 2007; Fiedler, 1965; see also Jehn and Bendersky, 2003). By distinguishing agentic and communal dimensions of leadership behavior, specific strategies can be distinguished to deal with different types of conflicts. Using relevant empirical findings, we illuminate how appropriate leader behaviors will lead to effective conflict management.