022: Leading with a Limp, Part 2: Don’t Let Conflicts Fester
Release Date: 05/14/2019
In this Leading with a Limp podcast series, we talk about how leaders can effectively manage teams during times of conflict and move toward organizational health.
If you’ve been a leader for any time, you know that strife, betrayal, even personal wounds will come. The secret to leading well isn’t to avoid these painful times but to embrace them and heal. Creating an exceptionally healthy environment requires intentional, hard work. But do it, and your team will flourish.
In this episode, we focus on how you as the leader can avoid developing a limp (or heal the one you already have) when you experience friendly fire from your team.
First, Address the Issue
If you’ve never witnessed healthy conflict, your tendency during difficult times is likely to avoid, shove it under the rug, ignore. Unaddressed issues within your team lead to bitterness. Left unreconciled, these issues mar both our trust with each other and our ability to move forward with ease. We become awkward, uncomfortable. We might start to avoid the person with whom we have the breech. The seed for an unhealthy working environment has been planted, and it will begin to impact your financial bottom line: When trust goes down, time and expense go up.
The most important thing you can do is address the issue. Don’t let it fester into a limp.
Develop a Set of Core Values, or Behaviors
For long-term organizational health, develop your team’s core values. Establishing team values will give you a playbook for mitigating conflict and miscommunication.
Core values are not slick words developed by your marketing team that live on your wall and website. Those do no good, and chances are your team has no idea what they say anyway.
True core values define the behaviors upon which your team agrees they will relate to each other—and they are vital to your organization’s health.
Core values are pre-agreed behaviors: When conflict comes, this is how we are going to behave with each other, with clients, and with vendors. These day-to-day behaviors promote the best among your team, and they are so clear and rehearsed that any team member can recite them at any time.
It is healthy to have conflict in your team about project challenges because it will push everyone to improve; however, when conflict becomes personality-directed and even mean-spirited, team values are vital to keeping the team together.
Read more about developing core values.
How to Establish Effective Team Values
Core values are day-to-day behaviors that are clearly demonstrated among your team. Practically useful team values will have the following qualities:
- They define how you are going to behave with each other, clients, and vendors.
- They are clear and well-rehearsed so all team members can readily recall and understand behavioral expectations.
- They are a team high priority, so if values are violated the parties involved will come together to examine what happened and why.
Go Back and Fix the Problem
If there are breeches now—people you’ve harbored offense with, something simmering that you’ve left unaddressed—go back this week and have the awkward, but profitable, conversation. Reconcile. Watch trust go up, and watch trust and expense go down.
When new conflict arises, proactively address the issue at hand as soon as possible. This breeds trust and helps prevent offenses from festering. Don’t let offenses go unchecked with your team.
Vulnerable Leadership Will Give You a Competitive Edge
Be willing to model this behavior as a leader. Have the humility to own your part and say, “Let’s come back to the table, talk through the problem, and see if we can get back to the issues and the concepts.” This is vulnerability-based trust, and it will give you a competitive edge. Your employees and peers will trust you when you are willing to model humility as a leader and admit when you could have handled things differently.
Do the hard work, and your team will flourish under your leadership.
If you recognize conflict in your team or a limp in your leadership but don’t know where to begin, let’s talk. We offer a great diagnostic tool to determine the strengths and liabilities of your organization. It’s a relatively pain-free process by which we obtain feedback from your team members to identify the roadblocks and blind spots in your pursuit of a healthy team.
Connect with me for a free, complimentary conversation about our organizational-health process. It won’t cost you more than 30 minutes of your time to find out if some feedback would be valuable for you and your team.
If you haven’t already, we’d love your feedback on the show. Leave a comment, review, or even a topic you’d like to hear me cover.
Until next time, lead well!