3 Things Conflict Resolution is Not (and 3 Things It Is)

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you have probably realized that I talk about trust and conflict management a lot. Here’s another post on conflict.

Truly great leaders are those who are truly great at navigating relational issues. They’re the ones who are not afraid of having the tough talk. I have had many great leaders who have worked tirelessly to make peace, and as we saw in my post about conflict management, this is an area in which I can grow.

Here are three things peacemaking is not:

  1. Peacemaking is not passive. It’s in the word; peace is made, not kept.
  2. Peacemaking is not a form of weakness. Making peace takes real strength. It takes a lot of courage to navigate out into the murky waters of relational issues.
  3. Peacemaking is not manipulation. It’s important to know that in the process of making peace that you are not supposed to be bending wills.

And three things it is:

  1. Peacemaking is necessary. Without someone making peace, your culture will eventually descend into passive-aggressiveness.
  2. Peacemaking is culturally stimulating. Peacemakers are pacemakers. They’re the ones who set what the culture will be like. Whether your culture is open and thriving or closed and stagnant is up to your ability to make peace.
  3. Peacemaking is for everyone. It’s not only up to the figurehead to make peace, but for everyone in the organization. This is setup by the person “in charge.” If the person “in charge” is a peacemaker, it opens up the doors for everyone to be a peacemaker.

Are you a peacemaker? How can you improve your ability to be a peacemaker? How do you feel assertiveness applies to making peace?

4 Reasons to Have Open Communication

Poor communication is a pet peeve of mine. I remember a time when I was working with the statistics for my team, and I asked my boss if I should share the numbers with the team as a whole. He told me that since the numbers weren’t good, we shouldn’t share the numbers. I disagree whole heartedly. When the numbers are bad is probably the best time to share them. Granted, this is the boss that no one went to with their problems or challenges.

4 reasons to have open communication:

  1. It builds trust – I harp on trust a lot, but without trust, no relationship can function. If you can tell me the bad when it’s bad, I can trust you to tell me the good when it’s good.
  2. It builds camaraderie – Especially in bad times, having a common cause to rally behind will always create deep relationships within your team. A unified team is unstoppable.
  3. It builds openness – Just like how no one would go to my former boss about their problems or challenges for fear of having them swept under the rug, if you hide bad times behind sunshine, no one will go to you because they cannot reasonably expect you to help them resolve the problems they’re facing. A team with closed, secretive communication is a dead team.
  4. It builds morale – People can sense when something is wrong. It’s a rare breed of people who are so empathically defunct that they can’t sense impending doom. When people feel something is wrong, it saps away at their morale. I believe people would rather know something is wrong and work on solutions than not know their enemy.

What is the state of your team’s communication? Is there any area you can improve on in your communication?

Why You Should Ask More Questions

Asking questions is one of the most underrated activities of a leader; however, I believe asking questions is the cornerstone of all leadership. There are at least two reasons why leaders don’t ask questions:

  1. Pride prevents it – As leaders, we feel like we’re supposed to have all the answers. In my experience, though, the best leaders don’t have the best answers, they facilitate the process of discovering the best answers. There have been many times where I have come up with awful solutions that could have been prevented if I had just asked a couple questions.
  2. It takes a lot of time – Question asking takes a lot more time than directing people to do your will. Leadership is relational, though, so I challenge you to take the time to ask the hard questions.

And there are two reasons why you should ask many questions:

  1. It creates trust – Craig Groeschel always says that “people would rather work for someone who’s always real than one who’s always right.” People trust people who ask questions and care about what they have to say. It shows authenticity and vulnerability.
  2. It helps you get to the source of issues quickly – instead of speculating about issues, a few well pointed questions (as hard as they may be) will get you to the source of issues you may not even know about. The operative words: well pointed.

When’s the last time you asked one of your team members a question and genuinely cared about the answer? What are some ways you can improve your question asking abilities?


Why You Should Promote Diversity

We live in a society that constantly and desperately attempts to separate us into buckets and cause division. And who can blame this society? As humans, we try to make rational generalizations based on observation and using that data to understand the world. However, people are interesting. As I wrote last week in How to Fight Insecurity, we are all different in some way, which would mean that the neat piles that our society tries to place us in get pretty messy pretty quickly.

Diversity is needed. I actually spoke on this recently: we are all different, not divided. Without diversity, there can’t be inclusion. This is one of those concepts that turn out to be pretty counterintuitive. But how can this be? Wouldn’t decision making, vision casting, and leading be easier if everyone thought the same way and had the same motivations? Of course it would be easier! However, when you think about it organizationally, who benefits from a homogeneous culture where everyone is a cookie-cutter participant? Only the decision makers.

Conflict spawns from diversity since different people have differing opinions and thoughts. This is a good thing! This kind of conflict helps us see the same issue from a different angle and allows us to reframe the problem in a better light, which will lead to a better decision. But I must end this post with a caveat: diversity and conflict is only effective (not efficient) if and only if everyone buys into the final decision even if the idea wasn’t their own and they vehemently disagree.

What are some ways you manage diversity in your organization? What are some other benefits you see from having a diverse culture? Have you every strongly disagreed with something but still bought into the vision?

How to Fight Insecurity

If I’m honest, insecurity is my biggest struggle as a leader. I don’t know what it is, but when I see someone doing something better than me, I get angry. Beyond that, if I see someone doing something that I’m not able to do at all, I envy that person. I sincerely hope I’m not alone in this feeling.

What’s interesting about this is that each and every one of us has a specific set of skills that we’re meant to use in order to contribute to society. We’re not all meant to have the same set of skills, and even for those of us who have similar skills, we’re still differentiated enough that we each have our own specific impact. My speaking or writing style is my own, and I don’t need to adjust it to how someone else speaks or writes because I’m not them.

You have a specific impact you’re meant to have on this world. No one can lead like you can. No one can speak like you can. No one can do what you do like you can, and that’s what makes life beautiful. Be secure in who you are and how you lead. Craig Groeschel, one of my favorite speakers, always says, “Be real. People always prefer to follow a leader who is always real than one who is always right.”

Have your aspirations; be inspired to learn something new; continue to grow, but be yourself in whatever you do. Be secure in who you are and confident in the fact that you have significance and the ability to make the difference.

What are some ways that insecurity creeps into your life? How can you prevent jealousy from influencing your leadership?