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Conflict Resolution Tips and Blog

Why Bold Leadership Leads People Into the Storm

A friend reached out to talk with me about a powerful leadership opportunity that had been handed to her unexpectedly. She signed on to be second in command but was suddenly handed the job of head leader in charge. She was afraid, but gong forward anyway. She reached out, because she knew that she was walking into a storm and she wanted to develop a leadership strategy for navigating it and making sure that everyone not only survived, but thrived under her leadership.

Bold leadership recognizes the need to choose to lead into and through the storm.

In the last few months, hurricanes have been wrecking havoc and changing livelihoods and lives everywhere they have hit. Even with preparations, tremendous damage still gets done and people look to leaders to help them through. Unfortunately, in business when it comes to conflict, most leaders are not prepared at the start and often let it build into a storm and then are left to watch as it grows into a full blown hurricane. At this point, most leaders want to run and hide or at least go someplace and scream, “Why Me????”

Getting to the other side with everyone intact and ready to sail the ship to safe, happy and productive shores together requires a leader who knows how to L.E.A.D.I.N. to the storm.

Level With Yourself. You are in a storm, there is no getting out of it because as the leader, unless you inherited it you likely played a role in causing it. Whether you avoided it or ignited it, it is happening on your watch and now
you have to not just handle it, but handle it with skill. Admit your fear to yourself. Conflict is scary. Few people like it, most avoid it and now that you know where you are, it’s time to level with yourself about something else.
How much do you really know about going forward straight into conflict and making it better and not worse? As leaders, our skill level in this area varies and being truthful with yourself is the first step. Do I need some real
expertise to advise me? Coaching, courses or a mentor? If none of this is available and the moment is right now then…

Embrace Resistance. Understand that both relief and resistance usually exist within a storm. People are afraid, angry, resentful, confused, unsure and a whole host of other emotions and they are tossing them all in your
direction. As much as they want the conflicts involved to be resolved, they also have their own reasons for holding on to their way of participating in them. By embracing resistance, you are fully expecting it and can prepare
yourself to listen through it to what is happening on a deeper level for people. Resistance isn’t personal against you, but is personal for those involved. They need their questions answered, their fears heard and their
requests validated through deep listening.

Account For Your Own Actions. Resolving conflicts in the midst of a storm requires leadership to be able to look within to where your triggers lie and prepare yourself to be triggered because your staff, your team or your
colleagues are in reaction mode and leadership needs to be ready to respond rather than react. Being triggered will cause us to react, understanding our triggers and their roots puts us on the road to being calm enough to prepare an appropriate response. If as the leader you are confronted with how your actions contributed or even blew stuff up, consider the possibility that there is truth there, perhaps you got triggered, if so own it and begin to….

Determine a Course of Action. Looking at the damage done and going for the easier fixes first can only be successful if you start to work on a course of action to resolve the larger conflicts. Involve all voices and consider as
many solutions as possible before you determine the plan to move forward together.

Implement Your First Set of Actions. Leading transparently throughout the storm is critical to keeping everyone on board, together and connected to you, each other and the solutions proposed. Clearly you are the leader and
if you want them to follow, they need you to let them in on as much as you can about what the plan is and how it will be implemented and their importance in it.

Navigate, Negotiate, Navigate. It’s a dance even if you don’t like conflict or dancing. You take a few steps forward and one step back. Everyone is not going to like everything, but being the Bold Leader that you are, listening and negotiating your way through the more difficult issues allows you to find out what is in the way and reshape the plan so that you can continue to navigate your way through the storm to resolutions that will allow everyone
to rebuild together.

If you are looking for the right way to build the Leadership C.O.R.E. muscles you need to be the kind of leader that can L.E.A.D.I.N. to Conflict and communicate more powerfully, professionally and productively, then I invite
you to check out my new Leadership C.O.R.E. Program.

The Conflict Between Donald Trump’s Leadership Style and All the Classroom Rules

Children all over the country have returned to school and are well into starting off the school year on a good note. As someone who was a teacher coach in Social and Emotional Learning for decades, I have experienced the first days of school in classrooms all over the world, but have spent most of my coaching time in this country. Those first days are a time where teachers and students set ground-rules or class agreements for how they are going to treat each other throughout the school year. These rules and agreements are meant to be lived up to each day and are also a tool for redirecting a student’s behavior if they act in ways outside of them. Most teachers also include themselves in the rules since they are an integral part of the classroom community.

While the words may vary from classroom to classroom, the sentiments are similar wherever you go. It usually starts out with a welcome to the class and then a question posed by the teacher. How do we want to treat each other in this class both inside the classroom and outside of it? Or some teachers may simply state the rules that they have for the classroom. Either way, the same ones usually hit the board.

Number one is usually respect. Inevitably, one of the children will raise their hands and say no name-calling. We all know that long before his UN speech, President Trump has engaged in endless name-calling on Twitter, at rallies, in speeches and press conferences so no one should be surprised at his use of the words “losers” and “rocket man” in his address. Yes, imagine on any given day in class if Raheim says “and to that loser Carmen who nobody likes,” what the repercussions will be for Raheim. Even if Carmen has been engaging in bad behavior, no good teacher will allow Raheim’s name-calling to go unaddressed. That same teacher has very likely been addressing Carmen’s behavior which has yet to turn around (which can also be said about Kim Jong-un), but never would they allow other students to break the classroom agreements
and escalate things.

Usually someone will add that threats should not be allowed if we are going to respect each other and create safety in the class. Imagine if Johnny stood up and said, “I am willing to obey all of the rules, but if anybody messes with me this year I will totally destroy them.” What teacher will let that slide or choose to include it in the rules? Not one.

Usually treating each other with kindness will be suggested along with being a peacemaker. Inevitably, the teacher will ask, “What should we do if two of our classroom friends are having a conflict? Should we try to be peacemakers or let them know that we are ready to go to war?” This would be the time when Carmen strikes back and says, “The fourth grade girls have been chipping in for weapons and we will soon be stronger than we have ever been, but we want peace,” which is essentially the message President Trump delivered with his statement about the US military.

Honesty and accountability is big when it comes to the rules in classrooms. There is not one classroom that I have visited where teachers did not express the need for students to own their actions and be honest about how they are doing in class and even outside of it. The President started off talking about all of the great things that he sees happening in America under his presidency before launching into a dressing down of other nations about the terrible things that they are responsible for in their neck of the woods. What he lacked in honesty and accountability for is all of the things that are happening here that do not paint that rosy picture. Domestic terrorism being perpetrated by hate groups that are on the rise, endless protests against many of the alienating policies of this administration, an epidemic opioid problem that is only getting worse, a country that has the highest incarceration rate in the world which is certain to either sustain itself or rise given Trump’s efforts to push back on criminal justice reform.

Imagine Thomas raising one hand as he sits at a desk in total disarray while poking Carlos with a pencil with the other hand and finally shouting out all of the things that Eddie, Lucy, Rafael and Jasmine are doing wrong after listing all of the things that he is excelling at in his mind. The teacher would literally have to hold themselves back from going in on Thomas about the need for him to be honest about and accountable for his own actions before he starts in on others.

Of course, I have saved the best for last. There is no way that teachers will allow calling another student curse words in their classroom and I have heard many a teacher lecture a student about disrespecting someone else’s mother. I have seen students sent to detention for that offense and yet President Trump saw fit to do both of those things in one fell swoop when talking about professional athletes this past weekend.

Yes, there were parts of his UN speech where talk of peace and concern for others was included. So, it didn’t all go against the rules. The President might say that he was just being direct and he did talk about working together and getting along in the UN speech and about respecting the flag in regards to the NFL. In response to that, I know that any good teacher would say, “Donald, if you follow the rules when you want to and then break them when you want to that does not count as following the rules.”

If teachers, principals, superintendents and parents find excuses for the President’s behavior then we might as well start ripping up those classroom rules right now.

Respect, Honesty, Accountability and the Ability to be a Peacemaker are all crucial components of strong leadership and these are all established by the foundation of classroom rules. Our young people are our future leaders and they are watching and taking notes. Many of them are also in classrooms that are mini United Nations. They are learning how to navigate and negotiate in these settings and they are learning that words and rules/agreements count.

When the most powerful leader in our country shows our children that basic classroom rules don’t count, leaders must step up and show them that is not true.

The Need for “Grownup” Leadership – Why Childhood Lessons Still Count

I ran into a friend who started working for a new company since I last saw her a year ago. Her job puts her in contact with leaders from several
departments regularly.

Her conversation with me was all about what she was observing about the difference in leadership styles and the effect they were having not only on
her ability to perform the tasks of her job, but also on her emotional well-being.

As a mother, she was comparing their styles of operation to the life skills and lessons that she was trying to impress on her teenage son daily.
Unfortunately, she was discouraged by the kind of leadership that she has to sit under. The more she talked, the more interested I became in her
analogy to getting her teenager to move toward adulthood and acting like a grown up and the leaders she was faced with daily.

I thought about the kind of leadership we are seeing today in all areas of life and about the life lessons that were impressed on me growing up.
Being a parent and a former teacher, I am familiar with the lessons that are still being impressed upon our young people today and wonder how much
impact the models of leadership they see are having on them.

As I began to focus on the basic lessons that are important as teens develop in to grownups, three things kept ringing true.

1. You Don’t Have to Respond to Everything Bad Someone Says About You

In other words, sometimes you just have to ignore what people say. With the popularity of social media, in particular Twitter, we are seeing
leaders in every arena “clapping back” at every remark harder and faster. Just the opposite of what we are trying to teach our budding young adults
to do. Real leadership requires a higher skill level around managing feelings, triggers and reactions. People are often unhappy sitting under the
leadership of a person who doesn’t know how to walk away or who just cannot let a remark go unanswered.

2. Do Unto Others As You Would Have Others Do Unto You

The golden rule which exists in a similar form in almost every culture and language is still something that is taught starting in childhood. The best leaders who create climates where people feel respected and cared about are those where leaders live by this rule. These leaders don’t name-call, scream, berate and intimidate their staff in order to get them to fear them and produce more. They know that the very things that they hate being done to them are the things that will cause resentment, dissatisfaction and a desire to leave the company.

3. Keep Your Word

Your word is your bond. It is all you really have. It is still a principle that sets leadership apart. In order to adhere to this principle, a leader has to be discerning. They have to think hard about what they want to give their word to because people will remember. Leadership that inspires loyalty and high productivity begins and ends with a leader who keeps their word to their team, their followers and their loved ones. Yes, leaders who understand that these days when the world can follow your every move, the separation between business and personal is getting smaller and smaller, don’t save principled behavior just for the office.

As more businesses reap the results of ineffective leadership, it seems to be turning out that childhood lessons aren’t just for childhood.

Bold Leaders Resolve Conflicts with Confidence

I grew up watching Emma Peels on the TV show, The Avengers. Everything she did from walking into a room, handling a difficult conversation and delivering a fierce side-kick, she did with extreme confidence. The impact she had on me was… here was a woman who knew that she was highly skilled in talking to people in any conflict situation and therefore chose to take it to the extreme (in her case using martial arts) only when her life was in danger.

With all the conflict that is happening and with every major business magazine and journal reporting on the importance of leaders building healthy relationships and diverse, high functioning teams, social skills are fast becoming the primary tools for success. Those who will be most successful in making major and impactful change are those leaders who can be Bold when it comes to conflict.

Bold Leaders know that they must skillfully and willingly engage in conflict, because it is both inevitable and necessary. Conflict can bring new ideas, opinions and perspectives to the workplace creating greater productivity, but only if we as leaders are confident in our ability to face it and manage it.

Bold Leaders anticipate and set the table for conflict knowing that putting it on the table for discussion before it blows up only makes the workplace stronger. That means we run into the fire of conflict while others are busy filming it or running the other way.

Bold Leaders continuously go within themselves to search for and own what they do to escalate conflict. We all have the potential to escalate, because we all have triggers. Triggers are fueled by emotions which set off reactions rather than responses. Bold leaders know that in order to take triggers off our plate we must examine our own feelings toward conflict and discover the root causes for them.

Bold Leaders add to and strengthen their conflict resolution skills with highly effective communication skills. This means that we are not just listening, but we are mindfully and strategically listening beneath the words in order to get to the source of conflict.

Bold Leaders examine the conflicts created by the cultural norms of the workplace and create conversations around them.

Bold Leaders, no matter where they are, home, office or community, are not just talking it out but hosting fearless conversations with the resolution of conflict as our goal.

The times that we are in require Bold Leaders who will use all of these skills in order to walk into the fire with confidence every time.

Are you a high-achieving leader who works with a team? Want to know if you are on your way to being a Bold Leader or already there? Let me send you my FREE Leadership C.O.R.E. Assessment Tool and let’s find out. Email me at

The Legacy of Trump, Conflict and Self-Reflection

I come across an article this week titled, “Comey, Russia, Healthcare… What Trump Voters Think Now.” I click on the link and read that 8 people who voted for Trump were interviewed about what they think of him now. As I get ready to read with great interest, I notice a gleeful anticipation rising up in me. I am expecting to see some remorse from some if not each of them about the choice they made.

The diverse selection by age, gender, race and socio-economic status give further fuel to my hopes. As I read each story, I find myself mentally noting who I could stand to hang out with and listen to, who I might possibly be friends with and who I don’t think I can bare two minutes of conversation with. I was particularly hard on the African American male. I heard myself say, “Brotha, you are just lost, we cannot hang” and then I stopped reading.

I sat back and took a few moments of self-reflection to realize that I had not come to this article with my usual curiosity and hunger for people’s stories. I had come to gloat and to see people who had “come to their senses” by thinking like me. I realized that 7 months into this presidency, I am already weary from the effort it takes to try and understand Trump supporters.

Wow. For me, that was a scary moment.

I’ve already talked about my friends who voted for Trump and who indeed still support him. I have friends who did not vote for Trump, but who intensely dislike Hillary (me too) and also dislike President Obama (that’s my man). The bias of my intense dislike of Trump is evident to me even as I write this. I kept “forgetting” to capitalize his name. I all but gag at having to call him the President (but I am quite clear that he is. I am not of the “he is not my president” mindset). I had no trouble, mind you, writing President Obama. I struggled with whether I should write former President, but decided that people do both. So, I’ll cave in to my own bias.

In conversations, on social media, print and tv, bias is the order of the day. Yes, I know it always was, but it seems that the legacy of the Trump Presidency is that it is front and center on the menu and everybody is ordering it with a side dish of “what is wrong with these other people?”

I’d like to offer up something for each of us and I am starting with me. Whatever your politics, let’s ask ourselves these questions:

  1. What biases do I have toward those who didn’t vote like me?
  2. Why is it so important to me that my friends and family think like me?
  3. Where might I be so blinded by my bias that I am missing what is important to others?
  4. What am I doing that is discouraging others from wanting to talk with me about these issues?
  5. How do I host and stay in conversation and relationship with others who don’t agree with me?

I value that article. I am using it as another way to learn and understand people who live, look and think differently from me but are human just like me. I challenge myself and each of us to live on a higher level of compassion, understanding, conversation, love and continuous self-reflection. Let that be President Trump’s legacy.

Here is the article in its entirety: