Sources of Power in Conflict (part 2 of 2)

April 16, 2012

Leaders have conflict. No matter how good a leader is, conflict is an issue that leaders must learn to deal with and navigate. And within conflict there are specific sources of power I would like to share with you and learn about.

Power, like anything else, can be abused if it is used too much. Since the sources of my power are more silent and not as obvious, I am not sure if I have “used” or “abused” my power very much. I think there have been a couple of times when the defining questions I asked were slightly manipulative.

At times, I allow my strength of listening and asking questions to direct the conversation in a way that gets the person I am in conflict with to agree with me. Or my questions might manipulate the person to agree with my point of view and say that I am right without me evening sharing my point of view or statement of what I believe is right. Even though I have only abused these sources of power a couple of times, it has been hurtful to me and the other person in conflict because it breaks down trust.

Power in American culture seems to be something that people admire when they think it is used for something that benefits them, and they view power as something bad when they feel power was used inappropriately over them. One book describes power in this way, “Humans have long craved control. They have understood the potential power that comes with working together. They have also used power for self-preservation and self-promoting.”[1] People in American culture seem to view power as telling someone else what to do with no option to do otherwise. Or they view power as when they tell someone that they are going to do something with no option for anyone else to do otherwise.

However, as I have shared, my sources of personal power are more subtle and silent than how the world often defines and looks at power. Based on my experience of using good listening, defining questions, building cooperation, and clearly stating what I want, I have good sources of power that are very effective.

Question: Do your sources of power help or hurt when you engage in conflict?


Dunn, Ph.D., Larry. “The Dynamics of Conflict.” Lecture, Fresno Pacific University-North Center Campus, Fresno, CA, December 8, 2011.

Schrock-Shenk, Carolyn. Making Peace with Conflict: Practical Skills for Conflict Transformation. Edited by Carolyn Schrock-Shenk and Lawrence Ressler. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1999.

Wilmot, William and Joyce Hocker. Interpersonal Conflict. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.

[1] Iris de Leon-Hartshorn, Making Peace with Conflict: Practical Skills for Conflict Transformation, ed. Carolyn Schrock-Shenk and Lawrence Ressler, Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1999), 132.

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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