PMP396: Leadership Approaches to Conflict Resolution with Jen Schwanke and Will Parker

Will You Help Us Celebrate??

Hello, Friends! It’s Will Parker here from Principal Matters: The School Leader’s Podcast. We’re excited to announce that we’re approaching our 400th episode! Can you believe it? To make this milestone even more special, we’d love to hear from you. If this podcast has inspired, helped, or encouraged you, would you consider sharing your thoughts with us? It’s easy: find a quiet spot, record a 60-second voice memo on your phone, and email it to We’re eager to hear why the show resonates with you, your favorite moments, or anything you find particularly thought-provoking or funny. Thanks in advance for your contributions, and thank you for doing what matters!

In this week’s podcast episode, Will Parker and Jen Schwanke talk about how school leaders can handle conflicts without causing more trouble through their input. They use questions from Assistant Principals who want to become Principals to guide their discussion. The topics include building good relationships, setting boundaries, and becoming stronger organizational leaders.

In their typical fashion, Will and Jen fashion, they only had time to tackle one question. Here’s the question we tackle: 

How can leaders effectively guide and protect their teams without appearing confrontational, especially in sensitive situations like managing resistance from individuals loyal to previous administrations or calming angry parents?

Jen’s advice:

  • Use the Conflict Resolution Cycle: Anticipate, Analyze, Act.
  • Tell the difference between someone being unsure and someone resisting.
  • Don’t be defensive or confrontational.
  • Taking a moment to pause can help build trust.
  • Approach conflicts without getting too emotional; think of it more like solving a problem.
  • If you’ve made a mistake, say sorry, and then focus on resolving the issue.

Will’s thoughts:

  • Good relationships are key to solving conflicts.
  • Being clear in your communication is a way to be kind.
  • Trying to make everyone happy won’t work. Aim to help everyone involved instead.
  • Building trust is more important than winning an argument.

Jen also mentioned that there’s often a lot of competition in education. Leaders should be open to hearing what they might be wrong and listen to understand others. 

Please listen to the entire episode for more tips for school leaders on dealing with conflicts in ways that do not escalate unwanted behaviors in others.

Thank you again for doing what matters!

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker