Using the transactional leadership style in your small-business operations, you control and organize work so that your employees know exactly when and how to complete job tasks. As the authority figure, your employees look to you for guidance and direction. When conflicts arise, both personal and professional, use the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, developed by Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann in the 1970s. This helps you identify the right approach to minimize disruption to workplace productivity.


Because transactional leaders rely on the hierarchy of the organization, they usually expect subordinates to obey orders. They operate from a position of power, rank and expertise. Using this style of leadership, you typically employ the competitive style of conflict resolution and make decisions yourself because you have the authority to win any challenges. While this approach works well in a crisis, people tend to feel resentful if the conflict is not resolved to their advantage without their input.


Using the collaborative approach to conflict resolution, a transactional leader focuses on completing job tasks but includes subordinates in the process of gathering the facts, debating the issues, investigating alternatives and identifying a solution. Transactional leaders tend to be concerned with meeting deadlines, and this approach takes a significant amount of time, so you should use it only when involving all people associated with the problem is integral to solving the issue most efficiently in the long run.


Effective transactional leaders use the compromising approach to conflict resolution when past problems resurface, opponents remain at an impasse or there’s an imminent deadline. In this situation, the solution at least partially satisfies everyone. Everybody has to give up something to resolve the conflict.


Using the accommodating approach to conflict resolution, the transactional leader gives up his needs in order meet the needs of his subordinates. To meet a deadline or get work done that meets certain standards, you may use this approach to persuade employees. Transactional leaders clarify everyone’s roles and responsibilities and reward people based on their performance. In this case, that means compensating people more to overcome an impasse.


Transactional leaders want to complete work. They may avoid conflict entirely by refusing to acknowledge problems, accepting default conditions or delegating controversial decisions to someone else. While not disrupting workflow helps get work done temporarily, letting conflicts fester and go unresolved typically results in bigger problems later on. A transactional leader focuses on short-term goals. By avoiding the problem, you assume it will go away on its own. This may or not actually be the case. Avoiding conflict generally is not recommended.