Ethical leaders manage conflict to develop trust

Alfred WONG, Xiaohui WANG, Xinyan WANG, Dean TJOSVOLD

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this paper is to propose that effective ethical leaders develop high quality relationships with team members; in particular, they manage their conflicts with team members cooperatively.

The authors empirically tested this hypothesis with responses from 117 managers and 302 subordinates.

Through cooperative conflict management, leaders develop trusting, mutually committed relationships. Ethical leaders and their employees avoid competitive conflict where they try to impose their ideas and resolutions on each other.

Practical implications
The findings suggest that ethical leaders can have a significant impact by fostering cooperative conflict management and reducing competitive conflict management. Thus, organizations are encouraged to adopt training and selection procedures to develop more ethical leaders.

This study adds to leadership research that effective leaders develop high quality relationships that help them influence employees as well as to be open and influenced by them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-146
Number of pages14
JournalLeadership and Organization Development Journal
Issue number1
Early online date27 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

This work has been supported by the General Research Fund (LU 342012) awarded by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong. The authors appreciate the support of the able research assistants in Guangzhou, China.


  • China
  • Competitive conflict
  • Cooperative conflict
  • Ethical leadership
  • Trust
  • Turnover intention


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