01 Aug '12
The leadership stewardship of necessary but hard conversations
One of the most difficult things a team or organizational leader does is to say the hard things to individuals when behaviors, attitudes or performance are problematic. No one likes to have these conversations and if someone relishes them I question their qualifications for leadership. However, those hard conversations are one of the kindest things a leader can do for the individual involved and for the organization.
What is kind is not always easy but it is necessary. Pressing into the hard things is a great favor to the individual. First, because you have given them the courtesy of hearing what others around them are saying or thinking - which they may be oblivious to. Second, it opens up a dialogue regarding issues which if solved will make them better people and better staff.
That dialogue may also reveal that the individual is not in their correct lane where they are likely to be successful. If that is the case, they probably know in their gut that they are in the wrong spot but don't know what to do about it. Helping them find their lane whether in your organization or another is the prelude to a happier existence.
If the hard conversation meets great resistance and defensiveness you know that you are dealing with an individual with EQ deficits which will manifest itself in other unhealthy ways and must either be resolved or will cause relational damage. In fact, how an individual responds to hard conversations is a very telling factor about their ability to become healthier. Your willingness to press in, however, is often the prelude to greater happiness and satisfaction on their part - if they choose to respond well.
It is also a huge favor to the team or organization. When there are behaviors, attitudes or performance that are problematic it impacts others in the organization. If we choose to avoid the issue (it is an uncomfortable conversation) we effectively disempower others who are impacted. This is why I call this an issue of leadership stewardship. As stewards of our staff or team we have a responsibility to create a healthy and empowering work environment
Often we wait too long to have necessary conversations out of our own issues and discomfort. When we put it off we forget that we are not doing either the individual or the organization a favor by doing so.