Edited March 2020
Conflicts aren’t comfortable. As a leader, you can bet you’re going to experience them, and some will be more challenging than others because the circumstances surrounding them will be more challenging. Look at the situation we’re in now, for instance. Our struggles are unlike anything we’ve ever experienced, and everyone is finding themselves facing a multitude of things for the first time.
What you want to focus on is that it will become easier. How do we know this to be true? Because with time and practice, everything becomes more straightforward. As a leader, if you’re experiencing conflict in the face of extraordinary times, it’s how you handle the scrapes and bumps along the way that will be the measure of your true mettle.
Moving Past Conflict
Have you ever worked with a mentor or business role model and wondered, “How do they do it without breaking down?”
Here’s a fundamental truth from my book, A Leadership Kick in the Ass: your mentors and role models learn from every move they make, every failure they experience, and they refine the process as they go along. They’re not afraid to experiment as they move forward.
Think back to the last time you learned a lesson the hard way. Maybe it was that last team project conflict?
How did you react?
Did you make changes to become better and stronger?
Or did you stick yourself in the conviction of “having to be right?”
If you chose the former, you are already 98% closer to aligning your practice with your mentors and those who have been successful before you.
7 Key Leadership Moves to Right the Ship
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, what company model you have, or even what your unique career goals are. Each one of your leadership mentors, business role models, and personal life icons practices these seven key leadership moves to regularly recover and grow stronger as a leader, and you should, too:
- Focus on the long game. A kick in the leadership pants is just a momentary speed bump on your longer leadership career. The spike in pain will eventually yield to worthwhile lessons and changes. Focus on where you ultimately want your career to end up, not the detour it may have taken.
- Learn from your feelings. Pay close attention to the feelings that come up for you after you fail or fall short. Identify what you’re feeling, precisely. Do you feel embarrassed, resentful, fearful, something else? Then ask yourself, “What information is this feeling trying to give me?” and “What is the lesson this feeling is trying to teach me?”
- Remember, discomfort = growth. Comfort may be comfortable, but it’s also stagnant. You don’t grow in a zone of comfort. You grow, progress, and evolve in a zone of discomfort. The more uncomfortable that moment felt, the more growth can result from it.
- Broaden your view of courage. Being vulnerable, open and receptive to change is a form of courage. Hard-charging types wrongly see courage as being fearless. Nothing could be further from the truth. Courage is fearful. The simplest definition of courage is “acting despite being afraid.” Courage requires fear. As long as you are moving forward, it’s when there’s a knot in your stomach, a lump in your throat and sweat on your palms that your courage is doing its job.
- Don’t be oblivious to yourself. How much might it be costing you to remain loyal to your ignorance? Self-exploration and discovery can be painful, but what is more painful in the long run is being a stunted human being, incapable of acknowledging, assimilating and shoring up your shortcomings.
- Be your own project. Lots of people lead projects better than they lead themselves. Think about what it takes to lead a great project. You identify your desired outcomes, you put together a timeline, you create milestones, and you gather the resources you need to execute the project and make it successful. You also use metrics to track your progress. You can manage your leadership hard lessons the same way!
- Stay present. Fully immerse yourself in your experience. What feelings come up for you? What fears are at work? What are you learning and how can it be put to good use?
As much as this self-discovery can be painful, it can be vastly rewarding. The journey to the center of yourself is the most important one you’ll ever take. It’s how you become a whole person, and a wholly unique leader. Don’t mimic your mentors on the superficial stuff–biohacking, morning routines, what books they read, what they eat and who they socialize with–but go deeper to do the real work that requires facing what it takes to be great and lead others.
Want to know more about conflict and how to RESOLVE IT? Find my book, Unlocking Horns: Courageous Conflict at Work, on Amazon now!