Conflict comes with leadership as the sparks fly upward. If you don’t want to deal with conflict, leadership is not your thing.
Being a leader is not about IF you will tackle conflict but HOW. In fact, no other ability (other than being able to get results) so shapes people’s careers as the ability to deal with conflict.
Conflict and leadership go hand-in-hand because leadership involves challenging people often to do what they don’t want to do. If people did what they wanted, leaders wouldn’t be necessary. Great results don’t drop like manna from heaven. Achieving them involves people having to get out of their comfort zones, make troublesome decisions, and engage in disconcerting new actions. Leadership helps guide and motivate people to do those things.
There are countless books, articles, etc. devoted to conflict resolution. But let me give you one tool that I’ve been teaching leaders of all ranks and functions worldwide for more than 22 years. It’s the Leadership Talk.
Because the Leadership Talk is results-oriented and deals with fundamental human dynamics, it can be an unmatched way to help you deal with the inevitable conflicts you’ll face.
(The many books and many other articles I’ve written on the Leadership Talk can be seen on my website.)
Here are the three essentials you must adhere to in dealing with conflicts and how the Leadership Talk can help you manifest those essentials.
1. Establish a deep, human, emotional connection with the people you’re dealing with. When in conflict, keep in mind that the message is not just the message, the message is the messenger. HOW you deal with conflict and WHO you are in dealing with the conflict are as important, if not more, than WHAT the conflict is. Abraham Lincoln explained the importance of HOW and WHO: “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend … Assume to dictate to his judgment, or to command his action, or to mark him as one to be shunned and despised, and he will retreat within himself, close all the avenues to his head and his heart; and tho’ your cause be naked truth itself … you shall no more be able to reach him than to penetrate the hard shell of the tortoise with a rye straw.”
The Leadership Talk helps you deal with not only the WHAT of the conflict but also the HOW. It is a clear, practical pathway to winning the hearts of the people you are in conflict with simply because its driving principle is Lincoln’s imperative of convincing the other side of your good will and sincerity.
2. Be guided by and empowered through process. It’s important for your career to have a simple, clear conflict-resolution process to guide your thoughts, speech, and actions. You may not follow it exactly in every case, but it can help you better deal with the countless varieties of conflicts that you’ll come to face.
The Leadership Talk is a powerful conflict resolution process because it engages the human aspects in practical, structured ways. For instance, one of its processes it called the Three-trigger Motivational Process. When you face conflict, you should ask three questions. If you say “no” to your answer to any one of those questions, you can’t give a Leadership Talk. The questions are: 1. Do you know what the audience needs? 2. Can you bring deep belief to what you’re saying? 3. Can you have the audience take action?
3. Stay focused on results. Since leaders do nothing more important than get results, the fruits of how we deal with conflict should be evaluated by whether we are obstructing or promoting results.
In leadership, it’s not enough to resolve conflicts, we must also in the process achieve increases in results. Forget about trying to achieve “win/win.” That can be a tender trap. In fact, in many cases, a win/win objective might impede results by keeping people from going to the next step, the results-generating step.
The Leadership Talk sees conflicts you are engaged in terms not simply of conflict resolution but results generation. Furthermore, its focus is not just about achieving ordinary results but more results, faster results on a continual basis.
Since conflict will always be with you as a leader, you should welcome it as an opportunity to get increases in results. When you’re using Leadership Talks, you’ll find yourself getting those results consistently.
2006 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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