Confrontation makes a lot of folks uncomfortable. In fact, many will engage in all sorts of contortions to avoid it.
Confrontation for the sake of confrontation is counterproductive. However, confronting that which needs confronting (e.g., ethical/legal duplicity, grossly unacceptable performance, irresponsible behavior, etc.) is a necessary role of effective leadership.
The best leaders I know learn (and are learning) to navigate necessary confrontation in healthy and productive ways.
Those wise leaders manage confrontation via the following strategies. They...
- Confront the behavior, not the person(s) involved.
- Are crystal clear about what needs to change.
- Engage in diagnostic dialogue to explore options for corrective action.
- Use inquiry as the springboard to improvement (constantly asking "What am I missing?).
- Stay focused on the BIG PICTURE stuff, refusing drift toward the inconsequential.
- Follow up by monitoring and providing subsequent feedback on progress.
- Treat others respectfully, ALWAYS.
Healthy confrontation is as much art as it is science (which qualifies it as "craft"). Learning to be a healthy confronter is worth the time and effort needed to master that craft.
Leadership ain't for the wobbly.
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