I was to speak briefly on this topic at a recent LQ Leadership Summit hosted by America’s #1 Confidence Coach, Dr. Keith Johnson, but time was running short, so rather than leave you hanging I am sharing it through my blog instead!
Dr. Johnson asked key people at the summit to share “the #1 Success or Leadership Skill you learned in the past year.” This was easy for me – it is up to you whether you want to work through and face a CONFLICT TODAY or work through and face a CRISIS TOMORROW. I learned this personally as I walked through a life-altering crisis that, had I dealt with it many years ago, it would have been little more than a blip on the screen. I’ve stood in as the friend, counselor, consultant, and shoulder-to-cry-on for a few others who have learned this painful lesson this year, watching much or all that they spent their life building be taken away because they ignored, stayed naive, or refused to face the conflict that they knew was brewing in their business and/or personal relationships. That’s not throwing blame – we ALL do it.
High D personalities tend to face things head-on more than the other three (I’m referring to the DiSC temperaments I, S, C), but even Ds are not thrilled at doing it – because for a D, most of those conflicts are self-created and require admitting we are wrong, having empathy to correct it, and listening to someone who knows more than we do. But all of us can point to situations where we wanted to pretend things weren’t as bad as they really were, or thought avoiding the necessary confrontation would be less painful than fixing it.
Marriages fall apart over lack of communication in one area that could have been fixed in the earliest years. The destruction of health is not an overnight crisis – it is years of refusing to deal with the “conflict” of eating habits and exercise and annual physicals taken seriously. Businesses established and successful for years stagnate and reverse progress within months of refusing to “read the writing on the wall,” telling them changes in the way customers perceive their product/service or make buying decisions are coming and trying to sell the way you did last year no longer works. Or perhaps the leader made a bad hiring choice and the rest of the team is now frustrated because they won’t correct the mistake – causing the team to lose heart, perform poorly, or worse, leave entirely.
When I say you should deal with a conflict immediately, I don’t mean do something drastic and extreme on the first whiff of trouble. I mean listen, accept that there is a problem (even if only perceived), put together a quality plan of action to correct it, and move forward. It may mean removing the wrong person from your team. It may mean an open and honest sit-down discussion with your key people, listening to them with both ears and getting their feedback, then using it to help make necessary changes. But you must DO SOMETHING! And it must be PUBLIC to the people it affects that you are taking action. Trying to do everything behind closed doors will make others feel like you are ignoring the problem. They need to know you see it, acknowledge it, and are VERY QUICKLY going to fix it.
It is your choice: Deal with CONFLICT NOW or fight a CRISIS LATER.
I am an executive coach and I can’t put this any way that does not sound like a sales pitch, but it is the absolute truth that a great coach in the area you need to make corrections is PRICELESS! Find a great coach who has an established process and plan for success in the area you need it, and MAKE IT HAPPEN!