Leading Through Turbulent Times Means Running Toward Conflict
Yes, the way out is back through.
The truth about conflict is: Most of us don’t like it, want nothing to do with it, and some of us even run from it.
But, conflict is really about communicating, and as a leader, you do that every day.
You just need your words and actions to have an impact on others that help them hear you, understand your vision, get inspired, and move to action in even the most difficult situations.
Bold leadership recognizes the need to choose to lead into and through the storm. 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…
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.
I know we are dealing with a lot. Oh, that is an understatement and all the more reason why you have to get started NOW. Don’t wait. Start that difficult conversation today. I’m with you. I’m doing it too.