The study examined the joint and relative effects of emotional intelligence and communication skill on conflict management behaviour of labour leaders in Lagos State, Nigeria. A descriptive survey research design was adopted using questionnaire as the main instrument. 180 respondents (labour leaders) were purposively selected from ten (10) randomly selected industrial unions in Lagos State. Data collected were analysed using multiple regressions at 0.05 alpha levels. The findings indicated significant composite effect of communication skill and emotional intelligence on conflict management behaviour of labour leaders (R= .458; Adjusted R^sup 2^ = .201 (20.1%); F ^sub (2,177)^ = 23.446, P < 0.05). In addition, the result revealed that communication skill has a stronger significant effect on conflict management behaviour of the respondents (B = .212, t = 4.747, p <.05). Based on the findings, it was recommended among other things, that government should organize intervention training programme on the two skills for labour leaders and that labour leaders be encouraged to update themselves educationally in order to enhance their communication skills.
Keywords: emotional intelligence, communication skills, conflict management behaviour, labour leaders.
The problem of conflict and conflict management in work organizations has become an issue of great concern to both the government and employers of labour in the organized private sectors especially in developing countries of the world including Nigeria. This is because despite the operation of the existing machineries (e.g. collective bargaining and statutory machinery) for conflict management in Nigeria, the incidence of industrial conflict is consistently and persistently on the increase (Onyeonoru, 2004; Kester, Samuel and Bankole, 2006; Bankole, 2007).
The incidence of industrial conflict in Nigeria has become so devastating such that the socio-economic and technological development of the nation has been hampered. The inability of the available conflict resolution machineries to nip in the bud the menace of industrial conflict has prompted some industrial relations experts to advocate for better alternative options such as social dialogue, peace education, UNESCO's peace culture and a host of others (Abu, 1998; Ajala, 2003; Onyeonoru, 2006).
Essentially, conflict as a phenomenon is inevitable in every human grouping. This is largely due to pursuit of diverse and incompatible interests and goals by different individuals that constitute the organization (Edwards, 2000; Otite, 2001; Onyeonoru, 2004). However, some past studies (Hammed and Ayantunji, 2002; Omoluabi, 2001; Akanji, 2005; Mitchell, 2002; Bankole and Kester, 2008) had shown that the outcome of conflict is determined largely by the conflict management behaviour exhibited by the parties involved in conflict.
In essence, the consequence of a conflict can either be functional (positive) or dysfunctional (negative) depending on how the conflict is managed by the conflicting parties. This implies that the conflict management behaviour of the parties in conflict is critical to the outcome of the conflict.
In one of their studies, Hammed 8c Ayantunji (2002) affirmed that industrial conflict as is found in most organizations today bothers on conflict management behaviour of both labour leaders(appointed or elected) and the management of the organization.
Conflict management behaviour as a concept refers to behavioral orientation that an individual holds towards conflict management. Mitchell (2002) quoting Thomas (1976) identified five conflict management behaviours (styles) based on two conceptually independent dimensions of interpersonal behaviours namely: assertiveness and co-operativeness. The five identified conflict management behaviours are competing, accommodating, avoiding, collaborating and compromising.
Competing: It depicts a situation in which one has high concern for self and low concern for others. …