This post was also featured in Millennial Leader. You can check it out here.
“Those who are not true leaders will just affirm people at their own immature level.”
– Richard Rohr
Confrontation. No one likes it, and yet if there’s one thing that stands between an average leader and a great leader is his ability to handle confrontation.
It’s a vital, but sticky scenario. Yet, every leader must decide: will I embrace the negative? Will I tackle the issue head-on? Will I engage this team member and make him better? Or, will I sweep it under the rug and hope it goes away?
No matter where you lead, in the church, in your business or in your home, confrontation is unavoidable if you want to be an effective leader and make those around you better.
Through the years, I’ve been guilty of three different approaches to confrontation. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of confrontation along with the related pitfalls:
The Bad: Avoidance.
One of the easiest mistakes to make when problems arise under your leadership is avoidance. Oftentimes we avoid confronting the problem because we care about the people involved and we don’t want to hurt our relationship with them. Or, we’re afraid of how they will respond. Or, we’re afraid we don’t have enough knowledge to confront the situation. Did you see the theme? Fear. Fear will immobilize and weaken your leadership faster than anything. Remember, you’re not in leadership to be the friend, your in leadership to be the leader. And leaders, true leaders, confront brutal facts and don’t avoid situations because they are afraid to hurt a fellow comrade’s feelings. Confront in love, but for the sake of your _______ (insert: business, ministry, family, friendship, etc) CONFRONT when you see a problem. Matt: 18:15 says: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”
Pitfall #1: Avoid confronting little issues along the way, and it will always result in bigger issues down the road. You’ll either confront them today, or you’ll confront them tomorrow, and I promise, today’s problems will be easier to tackle.
The Ugly: Twisted Enjoyment.
This is the leader that enjoys nothing more than tearing his team down, pointing out their flaws and exalting her own intellectual prowess. These are not fun bosses to have, and typically they lead out of their own insecurities, which results in a devastatingly frustrated team. The leader that lives to confront likely won’t retain his team very long, and will not lead them to success. Oh, and when it comes right down to it, all she wants is her own success, she doesn’t really care about yours. To lead with a twisted enjoyment for tearing people down is the exact opposite of health leadership.
Pitfall #2: Confrontation out of desire to flex your leadership muscle or authority will kill your team. Every time.
The Good: Eating Problems for Breakfast.
Henry Cloud is his incredible book, Integrity wrote “The ones who succeed in life are the ones who realize that life is largely about solving problems…but, if you can’t orient yourself to that reality, nothing good is going to happen, because that reality will not go away. It is the nature of the universe.”
Here’s the skinny: True leaders don’t just confront problems, they eat problems for breakfast. They thrive off of tackling problems. They don’t see problems as the enemy, they see it as the opportunity to take their businesses from good to great, and they wake up every morning ready to tackle the problems in their business to make it better. Problems can’t scare us as leaders, because it is the nature of the world we live in. They are inevitable, so we must inevitably tackle them if we want to win.
Pitfall #3: Lack of experience or solutions may keep a leader from leaning into a problem. Don’t fall into this pitfall. See your inexperience as another opportunity for you to grow and tackle the problem.