|Note: Slideshow appears at the bottom of this blog entry.|
“Do you ‘pick’ your battles with staff?” Ah, what a delightful way of avoiding the issues that can move your team forward or not. In my own work, I’ve found that the crucial conversations/confrontations that you have successfully move your team forward, while those you fail to have or are unaware of, stop growth. As a leader, I have “mine for conflict,” a term that Patrick Lencioni introduced me to in his books. One of my favorite quotes about conversations comes from the VitalSmarts folks:
Whenever you’re not getting the results you’re looking for, it’s likely that a crucial conversation is keeping you stuck. Whether it’s a problem with poor quality, slow time-to-market, declining customer satisfaction, or a strained relationship, if you can’t talk honestly, you can expect poor results.
Don’t get me wrong, mining for conflict is a good way to lose a limb, get burned, unless you have a plan that works. Having been a poor conversationalist in the past, I’m grateful to the Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations books for providing a framework that works for me. What’s more important is that your team members are looking to you to handle these issues. When you do, there’s a collective sigh of relief. When you do not, people won’t meet your eyes, avoid uncomfortable topics, and/or find subversive ways to get things done.
Dan Rockwell (Leadership Freak blog) points out the problem with administrators who “pick their battles” with staff:
Weak leaders choose manipulation over honest exchange. Wise leaders choose tough conversation over mediocrity.
Excellence is a function of confrontation.
The more uncomfortable the conversation the more important it is. The more it matters, the tougher it is.
Successful leaders address issues others avoid.
Mediocrity is the result of avoidance.
What a delightful evening I have planned for tonight! As I write this in the wee hours of the morning, I am looking forward to this evening’s podcast with friends like Amber Teamann (@8amber8), others, and colleagues I haven’t met yet, Ben Gilpin and Gerald Hudson.
This is the second time this year I’ve been asked to share my insights into “Critical Conversations,” so called because they are necessary, perceived as tough to have (best measured by your blood pressure and the gobs of time they consume, so it’s a bit of an endurance challenge), and critical because without them, you simply can’t move forward at work and/or life.
Here are the directions Amber shared with me last night, long after I’d already passed out for the evening:
Thank you again for agreeing to be a part of the #SAVMP process. Last week’s message was on Crucial Conversations. We wanted to do a hangout where we gave several scenarios and have you respond with how you, as a lead learner, would respond. In the course of answering about the scenarios, you can also share any words or wisdom that you have with our audience. The hangout will be live, and then also accessible for those who miss it on the SAVMP blog,
The three scenarios I’ll ask you about are:
1. The perpetually late employee
2. The staff member who isn’t pulling their fair share of the work load
- “Presume positive intent” – lots of references to this, but check out this chapter excerpt from What Successful Principals Do!
- Achieving Transformational Leadership with Wikis – http://tinyurl.com/nur2xp9
- Happy Feet2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw7R_RGAd9I
- “Who will do what by when?”
- Our Iceberg is Melting
Although I’ve been interested in the SAVMP conversations, I admit I haven’t really kept up with them due to a busy schedule and herculean tasks I’ve been involved at work and for personal. Still, as I reflect on this evening, I am reminded of previous blog entries on this subject that I’ve written, including my own set of scenarios:
- Crucial Confrontations – End of Year Slideshows
- Scenario #1 – Confrontations that Lead to Excellence
- Scenario #2 – Hungover Teacher Wearing Sunglasses in Class
- Scenario #3 – Peer Accountability
- Confrontation Protocol for Principals
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