Well, we have been taken captive and confronted once again with the power and unpredictability of Mother Nature. Just yesterday, it was a fine day, sunny, light breeze, cool but not too cool, riding along in a parade line of vehicles going into Metro Atlanta. Leading the parade were two state troopers and two rather large tanker trucks applying a salty mix to the interstate’s surface ahead of the “parade’s” participants and the anticipated winter weather. The good news is the road preparation worked well based on the news reports I watched; the bad news is I had just cleaned up my truck, after a long period between washes, the day before and now it is covered in a thin coat the salt mixture spray from the tanker trucks. Lucky me, I get to do it over; which is clean up my truck, again.
There’s not many times in our lives we get a “do over”. We have the Mulligan in golf which gives us another chance to better our drive, over time periods to break a tie in a sporting event to get another chance at a win, or chance to amend our words or actions after we make a mistake, by offering an apology to make things right, if we are lucky. However, there aren’t many chances for a “do-over” in the real world, so it’s better if we do the right thing, right away. The latter two “do-overs” reminds me of confrontation. Confrontation is not very enjoyable, however as leaders it is sometimes a necessary evil, but it must be done to rectify, purify and unify the team or the organization. When we, as leaders, refuse to confront wrongs, the atmosphere changes within the group, becomes lethargic and unfocused. I heard it said, “when leaders don’t stand for something, they will fall for anything.”
No one enjoys confrontation, as stated, unless they are a sadistic person, so how do leaders confront in a healthy and effective manner? Leaders address the issue immediately and personally. They don’t allow days to go by before taking about the issue because it sends a mix message about responsibility of the individuals action or inaction on the issue. Leaders confront with the right spirit. The spirit of a teachable moment comes to mind. The right attitude of the leader in the beginning will result in a growth talk rather than a beat down. The leader must start on a positive note with successes prior to the issue and then outline the problem in a manner that will encourage a response. This approach puts everyone at ease and creates a time to discuss both sides of the issue with less negativity.
A leader shows that he or she understands the other person’s position. They may be thinking their actions were justified based on prior teaching or information, and there’s a chance their instructions weren’t clear in the beginning. In my experience, when there have been times to confront a person about an issue or problem I have found a lack of training or passing of valuable information is what caused the issue. It is then we need to explain why the action is damaging. Most of the time it is not a malicious act but a host of misunderstandings that caused the issue from the start.
This is a perfect time for the leader to indicate the desired action. It is an opportunity to help this person stretch and grow to reach their potential, make them a more productive member of the team, and give them a chance to make things right. The leader needs to use this time to reiterate the positive strengths of the person. We can offer examples of our past mistakes or issues and what we did, with a mentor’s guidance, to help them better understand. Finally, reassure them the issue is in the past and don’t bring it up again in conversation or to remind them they are not perfect, because none of us are perfect, we all make mistakes. It’s difficult, as stated and no one likes it however, confrontation results in purity and security when done correctly. Our goal as leaders when we confront is not to punish or excommunicate but to restore.
The goals to healthy confrontation begins with clarification to get a better understanding of the person and what happened. Next is goal to change with the hope we may get an improvement from it and the improvement could be in us. Next is the goal to improve the relationship with the idea it could deepen our relationship with the person. Then there’s the goal of purity so when word gets out the team or the organization will be purified and sobered. Next is the goal of respect within the organization or team members by raising the respect for the leadership. Finally, is the goal of security making people feel safe knowing the leaders are strong enough to take the lead.
I encourage each of us as leaders to not fear confrontation, use it as a positive, empowering tool to take the lead when there is an issue or problem, it will make your team stronger, help them stretch and grow, reach their potential thus making a difference and adding value to others and us.
1 Corinthians 5:1-13
Have a wonderful day,