Leaders and Conflict

What can you do about it?

Leaders and Conflict

I have been thinking a lot lately about conflict and conflict resolution. I think we can all agree that some level of conflict is unavoidable. However, how we face it and whether or not we resolve that conflict says a great deal about our own leadership styles and abilities.

Consider the following statement by Warren Bennis, one of the foremost writers on leadership and organizational and management theory.

“Leaders do not avoid, repress, or deny conflict, but rather see it as an opportunity.” 

Leaders, this is one of your primary responsibilities. You cannot delegate this to one of your followers. Nor can you pretend that conflicts do not occur within the organization that you lead.

Conflict is unavoidable

I have spent much of my adult life working in the corporate world during the week and serving in a non-profit and volunteer organization on weeknights and weekends. And let me assure you that conflict is common to all organizations. Yes, you will even find conflict within churches and religious organizations. But we, as leaders, have the responsibility to sense conflict at its earliest stages and resolve it before it affects the entire organization.

True leaders do not avoid it nor do they run from conflict. I am not suggesting that they go and seek it out or that they invent it where it does not exist. But, great leaders must lead in times of calm and in times of conflict.

Conflict must be resolved

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Rockhopper Penguins

Leadership Lessons from an Unlikely Source

rockhopper-penguins

It would be a great thing if I could choose from where inspiration would come. But that is not the case. Today it comes from a documentary that I was watching recently about the migratory habits of penguins. That’s right, penguins!

What did I see?

I saw a group of very dedicated penguins trying, trying, and trying again to come ashore on one of the Falkland Islands and return to their nesting ground. With each attempt to come ashore onto a steep and rocky shore, another wave would come crashing in and sweep them off the narrow ledges that they were standing on as they tried to ascend the steep cliffs to its breeding grounds. It would wash them back out to sea and they would have to swim back and begin the ascent up the rocky cliff as wave upon wave tried to knock them back down.

The easy leadership analogy

The easy leadership analogy would be to take their persistence in relentlessly pursuing their goal of reaching their breeding grounds. The urge to breed is certainly a driving force in their lives. In fact, that drive is one of the strongest in our lives as well. These little penguins would try and try, and try again. And more often than not, they would be knocked off the cliffs and fall back down below and bounce into the surging turf. Fortunately, their little bodies were covered by a thick layer of fat and feathers to protect them from the elements. And each time they fell they would bounce around and then pop back up.

The other leadership analogy

But then I saw it.

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Going 1-on-1

Leadership Development

going-1-on-1

There are a lot of concepts and skills that can be communicated in group settings. Seminars and conferences are great forums for idea and information exchange. But, if you want transformation and not just information when it comes to leadership development, then you may want to consider going “1-on-1.”

I am incredibly blessed with a small cadre of leaders that I go 1-on-1 with on a regular basis. The frequency is not as often with some of them as I would like. However, the key is that I am talking or meeting with them in a focused 1-on-1 setting. It may be over the phone, but it is 1-on-1 and there are no other voices distracting us from our reason for being together.

Why 1-on-1?

The main reason for going 1-on-1 is that it forms an intimate and a private conversation between the two participants. It is in those moments that real dialog can occur. You can offer and receive significant feedback that would just not be appropriate in a group setting. And you can forge a relationship that will be sustained and strengthened by committing that time together.

What would we talk about?

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Know Your Followers

How much do you know about your followers?

know-your-audience

One of the factors that were most important for me back in the days when I was a professional speaker was a maxim that I learned from the former actor that taught me all I needed to know about professional public speaking. He taught me that I needed to “know my audience” before I spoke to them. Those were wise words.

What do you know about your followers?

Leaders, how well do you know your followers? Just what do you know about them? Do you even know them at all? These are tough questions. But, they are questions that we need to consider. Knowing them will provide us the insights into their lives and personalities that we need to be a better leader.

How do you get to know your followers?

Let’s assume for a minute that you accept the value of knowing your followers. How can you get to know them better? Consider the following ideas:

Go to them — Go and visit them. If you regularly have 1-on-1’s with your followers, consider having the next one at their office or sitting at their desk. Why? You will see the things that are important to them by what is on display at their desk. Is it a picture of their family? Their motorcycle? Is their favorite sports team obvious? You may not ever know some of these pieces that make up the whole person unless you make the effort to go to their space.

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20 Things You Need In A New Leader

Is it time for a change in your organization?

20-things-you-need-in-a-new-leader

Perhaps we don’t really “need” a new leader. Maybe we just really “want” it. Do you ever feel that way?

Change is inevitable. I know, that is so cliché. That doesn’t make it any less true. Leadership change is often needed when organizations have plateaued, been through a crisis, or leaders have taken themselves out of the picture for various reasons. In each of those cases, someone must take a hard look at the organization and the needs of all the parties concerned and select another leader.

What are some things that an organization should consider in selecting a new leader? Consider with me the following as a partial list of key skills, abilities, traits, or tendencies. It is not an exhaustive list by any stretch. But it may spur some thoughts and ideas as an organization moves forward with seeking and selecting new leadership.

They must possess Leadership Abilities– This one almost goes without saying. When selecting a leader, make sure they have demonstrated leadership somewhere and some place before you bring them into your organization.

They Must Demonstrate Past Performance / Results – When searching for a new leader, do your research. Check out the leadership candidate. Has he/she demonstrated strong leadership in the past? Do they get results?

They Must Realize That They Are Part of Something Bigger – Each of us is a part of a much larger organization. And we should consider that we are building something that is larger than our local organization and it should fit well with the larger organization.

They Must Show That They Have Learned From Past Mistakes – Everybody makes them. How does the leadership candidate show that they have learned from mistakes made in the past?

They Must Show That They Can Fit Within the System or Personality of the Organization – Does the candidate mesh with the organization’s overall system or personality? If not, you are destined for conflict.

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Be Genuine

Leadership Basics

Be Genuine

One of the buzzwords bandied about these days is “genuine.”  You will also see that used almost synonymously with the words “authentic” and “real.” But what does that mean?

Almost every definition indicates that to be genuine, authentic, or real is to be the same on the inside as you are on the outside when it used to describe a leader. It may be defined well by stating what it is not — It is not FAKE.

It is also not an excuse to be a jerk! Many times I have seen it used as nothing more than an excuse for one’s own bad behaviors or to excuse poor interpersonal skills. I have seen it used as an excuse to let a baser set of reactions govern our lives and coarser language dominate our speech when we need to be striving to elevate our behaviors and our words.

What does it look like to be genuine?

Consider with me for a moment 5 things that will help us recognize a leader who is genuine.

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Don’t Confuse Loving With Following

Just because I love and admire you, doesn’t mean I will follow you.

Don't Confuse Loving With Following

Feelings and emotions will deceive us. This is especially true when it comes to “love.” And it can be dangerous when it comes to how we view our leaders. What a shame. Especially when they can be so strong and so certain at the time. Emotions, such as the ones we experience in a loving relationship, that are unbridled can cause us to make some very poor decisions. Emotions are not bad. In fact, just look at some studies in the area of Emotional Intelligence and you will quickly see that emotions play a significant role in our personal and professional lives.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Love is a wonderful thing. And love is a great filter through which we need to view the world. However, love can cause us to overlook or make excuses for failures and shortcomings when it comes to our leaders.

Many organizations have leaders who are beloved. I have witnessed this over the years many times. And it is very common in the non-profit world where I do a lot of coaching. In the nonprofit world, you will find leaders who are often in leadership roles for which they are not particularly suited or gifted.

These leaders are frequently appointed or even elected to their positions. As followers, we do this as a way of showing how much we love this particular person. What can possibly go wrong with that?

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Be Polite and Be Approachable

Leadership Basics

Be Polite Be Approachable

Welcome to the second in a series of Leadership Basics that we all should reflect on now and again and that we should make sure are a part of our every day repertoire.

Be Polite

“It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.” Those words have been quoted by many and attributed to many. The one attribution that I am most fond of is the late great football coach — Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Coach Bryant is legendary. For the folks in some parts of Alabama, his stature is almost god-like. And for folks here in Texas, he is legendary as the coach who took Texas A&M from a 1-9 record his first year to winning the Southwest Conference Championship 2 years later.

He tells a story about one of his first recruiting trips after he became the head football coach at Alabama. I will not recount it here. But the short version of it is that he ultimately recruited a very talented young football player years later because of the kindness that he showed the boy’s grandfather on his first trip to that part of Alabama by stopping at his humble cinder block restaurant and fulfilling his promise to send the old man an autographed photo to hang on the wall of the restaurant.

Consider this quote as well before I move on to my next Leadership Basic:

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Emotionally Adept Leaders

The Case for EI is the Case for EA

Emotionally Adept Leaders

To make a case for one of them is to also make the case for the other. Because to truly grasp Emotional Intelligence (EI) and not put it into practice in every area of life would be to deny by your actions that you really “get it” when it-comes to the topic of EI.

I am in the process of writing a book on the topic of what it means to take Emotional Intelligence beyond just “knowing” and onto the important steps of incorporating that knowledge into our daily lives. In other words, becoming emotionally “adept” and not just full of knowledge that is never applied to how we live our lives. I am terming this, becoming “Emotionally Adept” and it is part of the overall process of becoming an “Emotionally Adept Leader.”

However, before I continue and expand on what it is to be emotionally adept, I should probably set the background for those not familiar with EI or reset the background for those that are familiar.

High-level Summary of EI.

By now, many of you have read the book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. So, just what is emotional intelligence? The quick answer is to say that there are four components of emotional intelligence that best define it. The first two are about yourself, while the remaining two are concerning others or those around you.

Self- consciousness (Being aware of one’s own emotions) 

Knowing yourself and being conscious of your emotions is the first component of emotional intelligence. Becoming aware of

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Are You Likable?

Is it better to be liked or respected?

Are You Likable

I want to be liked. I think that everyone wants to be liked. Do you want to be liked?

The question today is this: Do we need to be liked to be an effective leader?

I am going to speak from a male perspective today. If you are a female, read on. It may be insightful for you to further see how men think and process information. But I am speaking today from a male viewpoint.

What is that point of view?

There is something inside a man that longs for respect. And I think that many, if not most men would choose respect over love if they had to make such a choice. So, what do we do with that reality?

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