5 actions responsibility-centered leaders do that others don’t: Having difficult and uncomfortable conversations.
“One of the main responsibilities of a leader is to confront difficult, awkward issues quickly and with clarity, charity and resolve.” P. 148
This is, by far, the most dreaded work of a leader. As Lencioni admits in the book, I join him in saying I’ve regularly bucked the idea of having a difficult conversation with particular people. And there are many reasons why I thought my behaviour was necessary. “What if this person doesn’t take it well? Can I continue moving forward without their support?” “The work they do far outweighs their detrimental behaviour, I can’t lose that!” “There behaviour is a little strange, but I’m sure most people will just overlook it like myself.”
Instead of diving into these conversations, I let them slip because who can’t deal with a little bit of annoyance once in a while. Why should we get into a full-blown argument or misunderstanding when it’s just easier to ignore it? Sometimes I don’t get into it because I’ve been on the receiving end of harsh criticism and it didn’t leave me feeling great about myself. Why would I do that to someone else?
The truth is, instead of having a difficult conversation and figuring out how to have caring candor with the person (telling that person the truth in love), we are instead leaving the job to some bloke who may have critical candor (telling the person the truth and nothing but the truth with no love). What happens then when that person comes back to us and asks us why we never warned them about their short comings? Or what if their shortcomings lead to a cap in future positions. Some people don’t get hired because they’re just a hair short of their competition. Are we okay with limiting the ceiling on our friends, coworkers or employees because we’re too scared to have a conversation with them?
Sometimes I didn’t have a conversation with a person because I believed they would try to ruin me. There are powerful people in organizations and you begin to force them into line, they might buck and take the whole system down with them. In these cases, the organization is already being held back already because the truth is, if you’re fearful of this, there are others who are also feeling this way.
So we come back to the original quote I shared with you at the beginning of this chapter as we have to approach awkward difficult conversations with clarity, charity and resolve. What is the clear outcome we hope to see that is going to be best for the leader, subordinate and/or parties who may be impacted by this conversation? How can we be charitable to the individual while doing what is best for the organization? How can we resolve the tension in a way that benefits the whole group for the best? How can we tell the truth in love?
I hope you have those difficult conversations. Whether that would be with your friend, coworker, boss, employee, pastor, congregational member or whoever. I hope you spend significant time crafting how to speak the truth in love and deal with the resounding fall out in emotional healthy ways. I hope you are able to control your emotions and are rationally able to explain your position with a clear resolve that helps every person in the situation you’re in the midst of!
Parkland Community Church:
We Exist to Develop People Who Love Jesus and Serve Others.