lessons

Lessons Learned on the Road

I had bicycled nearly 300 miles into stiff headwinds from Hurricane Ian, which heightened the pain and added to my fatigue. It’s not supposed to feel like this.

I was popping ibuprofen and acetaminophen like candy, sitting on bags of ice at night, and considering other ways to reduce the pain.

I was treating the symptoms because I didn’t know the cause.

My coach, Chuck Kyle, did. After a few more days of this, I called him and let him know what I was experiencing. He asked a few follow-up questions and told me my seat was out of alignment. Angle your seat forward 1mm.

What? 1mm?

I trusted my coach, but I could not see how such a small change would make any difference. I made the adjustment, skeptical of the impact.

Yes! This is how it’s supposed to feel!

No more pain. The next 1200 miles felt terrific.

We tend to think proportionally. A small lesson change makes a small impact; a big lesson change makes a big impact. We resist making small changes because we believe they’ll be inconsequential and assume significant changes will be too painful or create massive side effects.

Sound familiar?

This mentality keeps most people stuck in painful ruts or flailing in swamps of frustration.

Here’s the difference: the right small changes to the correct issues have significant impacts and little downside. The key is to affect the causes rather than the symptoms.

I find the 1mm rule also works for good leaders and coaches. The good ones don’t require massive interventions, and the bad ones don’t want help.

The good ones need 1mm adjustments to what’s causing pain and not working quite right. Having the right trusted adviser gets you to identify the cause quickly and make the subtle lesson changes that lead to success.

What if you could take away the nagging aches that bog you down? What would you do with the new time and energy?

  • “I feel drained at the end of each day. How do I stop feeling this way?”
  • “I’ve got more direct reports, and I rarely see them. What should I do to help them without them feeling micromanaged?”
  • “One of my direct reports is resisting the changes we need to make. How do I get them on board?”

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Get more action steps about leadership and accountability in these recent podcast interviews:

Conflict management and leadership in Wake-up Call hosted by Mark Goulston. https://mywakeupcall.libsyn.com/ep-370-chris-kolenda

Gaining buy-inWay of Champions podcast, John O’Sullivan and Jerry Lynch: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/292-christopher-kolenda-retired-us-army-colonel-on/id1223779199?i=1000581115154

Leaders as exemplars in Get Uncomfortable with Shae McMaster: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/get-uncomfortable/id1557553154?i=1000575764193

How to get good at getting better: Getting Down to Business with Shalom Klein. https://anchor.fm/shalom-klein/episodes/Podcast-of-Get-Down-To-Business-with-Shalom-Klein–08142022—Chris-Kolenda–Chris-Kolenda-and-Kimberly-Janson-e1mbu0q

Queen Elizabeth II demonstrated that leadership is not about your chromosomes, personality, hardwiring, or credentials. It’s about how you behave. Full stop.

Queen Elizabeth

Hundreds of thousands of Britons lined London streets and countryside thoroughfares leading to Windsor castle. They tossed flowers, offered prayers, and paid respects as Queen Elizabeth II journeyed to her eternal resting place.

They arrived voluntarily. No coercion, no gimmicks. People showed up on their own.

I’ll be on a newsletter hiatus during the Fallen Hero Honor Ride, which begins on September 25th in Spalding, Nebraska, and ends on October 22nd at Arlington National Cemetery.

The journey begins at Chris Pfeifer‘s gravesite fifteen years to the day he died of wounds. His daughter was born two days later. I am grateful that Chris’s parents, widow, and daughter will be there.

The 1700-mile bicycle journey raises funds for the Saber Six Foundation, which supports our 800 paratroopers and their families who need help.

I’ll post updates, leadership insights, and the inevitable hard knocks throughout the journey to help you build resilience, increase your arsenal of good leadership behaviors, and gain healthy doses of laughter, remembrance, and gratitude.

If you’d like to support this cause and receive these updates, please donate any amount that brings you joy. You can use this linkauctria.events/DonationsFallenHeroHonorRide.

common

Lazy and unethical is what they have in common.

common

Quiet quitting is a term making its way around the internet. It refers to employees who stop being productive while drawing a paycheck for as long as possible.

Quiet firing is railroading an employee to quit so that you do not have to pay severance or undergo a 90-day performance review process.

Both practices are lazy and unethical

Look deeper, and you’ll probably find poor leadership at the root of both, too. According to Gallup, two-thirds of American employees reported being unengaged at work. That means they spend most of their time unproductive.

Some of the unproductivity is self-imposed. Most of it relates to unnecessary meetings, poorly thought-out requirements, miscommunication, etc. These are leadership problems.

You hired adults; what if you treated them like adults? Start with the ABCs

  1. Accountability. You need to meet 1-on-1 with each direct report weekly. People need to know that there are consequences for awesome, good, and awful. See this article on proactive accountability.
  2. Buy-in: You cannot demand it or order it on Amazon. You need to earn it. You know you have buy-in when people do what’s right the right way without you having to watch.
  3. Clarity about your common good: mission & vision, goals & values, standards & expectations. Every task you give should include “So That we get [x, y, z] outcomes.”

You’re right back on track with:

  • “Let’s meet for 15 minutes each Monday at 11 am so we can discuss priorities and make sure you are getting the support you need to succeed.”
  • “Joe, I like how you are letting your employees develop their own game plans for these tasks. How can I help you develop them even more?”
  • “I noticed that you’ve had a fifty percent turnover this year. Let’s discuss why that’s happening and what I can do to help you be successful. If this trend continues for the next 90 days, it’s time for you to find a better fit.”

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Saber Six Foundation – Fallen Hero Honor Ride

The Fallen Hero Honor Ride is only 15 days away. I’m excited for this 1700-mile bicycle ride to visit the graves of the six paratroopers from my unit who were killed in action in Afghanistan and raise funds for the Saber Six Foundation. Find out more here or at https://honorride.us.

I need your help. Our Honor Ride Team Champions program is a great way to get involved. You’ll raise support for a great cause, be eligible for awesome prizes (like an African safari), and get exclusive updates throughout the ride.

Are you ready to be a hero for our heroes? Contact me at [email protected] to find out more.

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Get more action steps about leadership and accountability in these recent podcast interviews:

Can I give you some feedback?

Feedback

Those six words create anxiety in even the most self-assured and high-performing employees because they know what’s coming next.



The feedback sandwich.

Feedback employees

You hate giving feedback because you don’t want people to feel bad, so you try softening the blow by saying something nice up front and at the end while sandwiching the criticism in the middle.

You: “Joe, can I give you some feedback?”

Joe, cringing, “Uh, sure.”

You: “I liked your presentation. However, slide seven was too complicated; you said um and ‘you know’ way too many times, didn’t handle the third question very well, and seemed tired at the end. Nice work, overall, though.”

Huh?

That’s a classic feedback sandwich. The empty compliments are like the slices of bread; the criticism is the meat in the middle. No matter how you slice it, it still tastes like sh!t.

You feel better, but Joe’s ready to vote with his feet.

You might think the presentation was good, except for the points you mentioned, but Joe feels your compliments are insincere. You made the standard error of generalized compliments and specific criticisms. It’s easy for Joe to tell where you spent your mental energy and what you think.

It’s even worse because Joe believes you’re attacking him personally. Notice that you gave low-utility criticism. Joe cannot act on any of it. You’ve given him no way to get better.

Sound familiar?

What if you provided balanced, forward-looking feedback?

  1. First, you need a review after every presentation or significant action.
  2. You should provide compliments with the same level of specificity as the criticism.
  3. You must offer high utility: your compliments and criticisms should be actionable.
  4. Focus on action steps to sustain what’s awesome and improve what’s not.

You’re right back on track with:

  • “Let’s have our normal review.”
  • “Joe, slides 1-6 were terrific — tight, clear, and focused. Slide 7 was difficult to understand. In what ways can you make slide seven more like slides 1-6?”
  • “You nailed questions 1, 2, and 4 with specific answers backed up by data. What caught you off guard about question 3? What can I do to help you prepare for those big-picture questions?”

You get the idea. Your feedback (or feed-forward) needs to focus on improvement, not criticism. Joe needs to know you’ve got his back and want him to be successful.

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Get more action steps about leadership and accountability in these recent podcast interviews:

Conflict management and leadership in Wake-up Call hosted by Mark Goulston. https://mywakeupcall.libsyn.com/ep-370-chris-kolenda

Gaining buy-inModern Leadership hosted by Jake Carlson: https://jakeacarlson.com/288-biking-1700-miles-for-my-troops-with-chris-kolenda/

Leaders as exemplars in Get Uncomfortable with Shae McMaster: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/get-uncomfortable/id1557553154?i=1000575764193

How to get good at getting better: Getting Down to Business with Shalom Klein. https://anchor.fm/shalom-klein/episodes/Podcast-of-Get-Down-To-Business-with-Shalom-Klein–08142022—Chris-Kolenda–Chris-Kolenda-and-Kimberly-Janson-e1mbu0q

If you get 1 percent better each day, you’ll be twice as good in just 70 days. Imagine the significant impact you can have on your career, health, and relationships if you can focus on making daily improvements. Learn how to break out of the survival loop.

survival

And yet, most people drift. It’s easy to take the path of least resistance and go with the flow – or be overly ambitious about what your future self will do. This is the survival loop at work!

You’ll start that diet on Monday. You’ll work on your business plan after Labor Day. You’ll hire that coach when you have more money. But when? When will the stars align for you to have more time, more money, and fewer demands?

The only time is NOW. Waiting costs you the one thing you can never get back. Your TIME!

Waiting for “the perfect moment” reinforces your bad habits and mires you in the survival cycle.

  • Instead of innovating, you’re working harder, guaranteeing you’ll never have more free time.
  • Instead of learning better sales and marketing techniques, you’re continually frustrated that you’re not reaching your income goals.
  • Instead of hiring and training people to help grow your business, you end up doing it all yourself, even the tasks you dislike and aren’t good at.
  • Staying in this survival loop is a recipe for burnout, negatively impacting your health and relationship.

I can always make another buck, says my friend Alan Weiss. I can never make another minute.
The only way out of the “I’m-too-busy / I can’t afford it / I’ll do it later” loop is to take action because you know there will NEVER be a perfect time. In fact, NOT having what you want can provide the exact motivation you need. When you’re HUNGRY, you’re motivated.

You may think, “Chris, I get the importance of personal growth, but here are the problems. Some of these programs become another part-time job, others give you ivory tower stuff that I can’t apply, and then there are the goofballs and charlatans. I don’t know which coaching program or adviser is right for me.”

Sound familiar?

What if I told you that you are exactly right, and that’s why you need to get the right fit?


Applied learning is the essential improvement, and that’s why a trusted adviser is your shortest and most effective path to success.

Look for three ingredients in your trusted adviser:

  1. First, you need an emotional connection so that you know they have your best interests in mind and won’t waste your time.
  2. You want someone who gives you new tools, insights, and perspectives — who can help you expand your capacity and capabilities — not someone who just asks you questions.
  3. You need accountability to apply the right tools, insights, and perspectives at the right time, get feedback, adjust, and refine. That’s what trusted advisers help you do.

No one ever learned to ride a bicycle by watching a TikTok video or reading 3-ring-bound pdfs.

You’re right back on track with:

  • “I meet with my trusted adviser for 30 minutes each week. That’s 1/80th of my time. It reduces the spinning and increases the winning.”
  • “I stopped a weekly meeting 90 days ago to spend 30 minutes with my coach. No one misses the meeting, and I’m twice as effective.”
  • “I save about four hours for every 30 minutes I spent with my adviser.”

To get good at getting better, start with finding the right-fit adviser. We have an entire team of advisers here at Strategic Leaders Academy, and we’ll pair you with the right fit.

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Get more action steps about leadership and accountability in these recent podcast interviews:

Conflict management and leadership in Wake-up Call hosted by Mark Goulston. https://mywakeupcall.libsyn.com/ep-370-chris-kolenda

Gaining buy-inModern Leadership hosted by Jake Carlson: https://jakeacarlson.com/288-biking-1700-miles-for-my-troops-with-chris-kolenda/

Leaders as exemplars in Get Uncomfortable with Shae McMaster: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/get-uncomfortable/id1557553154?i=1000575764193

accountability
accountability

3X3 accountability is proactive because it helps you set clear expectations and assign responsibility for self, peer, and leader actions.

Accountability shapes behavior so that people do the right things in the right ways without you having to micromanage them, such as:

  • Meeting agreed on expectations
  • Delighting your customers
  • Working together to achieve your organization’s common good.

Without accountability, you find yourself cleaning messes and fixing problems. This kind of work is failure-work, and it sucks your time and energy for innovation and growth.

You may think, “But Chris, why don’t people do what they said they’d do? Why do I have to be the bad guy? I feel like I move from one difficult conversation to another, and it’s exhausting.”

Sound familiar?

What if I told you that most accountability problems begin with unclear expectations? There’s a direct correlation between expectations and results. When people know the expectations — especially when they help you create them — they are far more likely to follow through.

3 X 3 accountability helps you create a virtuous expectations and reinforcement cycle.

1. Identify three behaviors or habits that will improve your team’s work together. Use the “What + So That + Results & Outcomes” formula. For example:

Report bad news as soon as you verify it so that we can take steps to address the problem.

Focus on cause, not blame, when problems arise so that we can quickly take corrective action and improve psychological safety in reporting.

Underwrite honest mistakes and shortfalls and celebrate wins when people try new things so that we encourage innovation.

2. For each behavior or habit, what do acceptable, unacceptable, and awesome look like?

Report bad news as soon as you verify it so that we can take steps to address the problem.

– Unacceptable: hiding bad news, shooting the messenger, flying off the handle, finger-pointing.

– Acceptable: Report the bad news as soon as it’s verified. Receive the news without judgment or finger-pointing, and identify and address the cause(s). No finger-pointing.

– Awesome: identify the problem, diagnose the cause, and recommend ways to address it.


3. Identify responsibilities for people to self-correct, when peer-correct should happen, and when leader-correct should occur.

You’re right back on track with:

  • “I like how you identified the cause and gave me a recommendation. Let’s go with it.”
  • “I didn’t react properly to your report. I should have thanked you and taken action instead of getting angry. I’m sorry about that. What do you suggest we do about the problem you reported.”
  • “You nailed it when you took action to fix that bottleneck. That’s exactly the initiative we need.”

3X3 accountability is proactive because it helps you set clear expectations and assign responsibility for self, peer, and leader actions. You’ll improve psychological safety when you have buy-in for the performance and behavioral standards.

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Get more action steps about leadership and accountability in these recent podcast interviews:

Wake-up Call hosted by Mark Goulston. https://mywakeupcall.libsyn.com/ep-370-chris-kolenda

Modern Leadership hosted by Jake Carlson: https://jakeacarlson.com/288-biking-1700-miles-for-my-troops-with-chris-kolenda/

Wealthability hosted by Tom Wheelwright: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/lead-to-win/id1460072138?i=1000559631933

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I have several programs geared to developing leadership skills, such as Becoming a WHY Leader (TM), CEO mastermind groups, and 1-on-1 personal trusted advising.

To see which ones fit your needs, hit reply or schedule a call with me: https://callSLA.as.me/Chris.

Working with Chris has helped me visualize and communicate more clearly, gain the buy-in that inspires greater performance, and put my subordinates in positions to succeed.

Andy Weins, CEO, Green Up Solutions



accountability
accountability

Unfortunately, you cannot completely avoid reactive accountability. You have to tally the metrics and address the mishaps, wins, and mixed performances that are parts of business and life.

To run a successful business, we must hold people accountable to do the things they promised to do, such as:

  • Finishing tasks
  • Following up with clients
  • Achieving sales quotas

Without accountability, your plans can quickly fall apart. You may think, “But Chris, why don’t people just do what they said they’d do? Why do I have to keep track of everything? Why don’t they just tell me the truth? I can’t do anything about the situation after the fact. I need my team to act like grown-ups.”

Sound familiar?

What if I told you there’s a better way to hold your team accountable? There are actually two types of accountability – reactive and proactive.

Reactive accountability happens after the fact: you tally the quarterly metrics, your team had an incident, the report is late, you lost a key account.

Now you’re mad.
You’re embarrassed.
You’re losing money.

With emotions surging, it’s easy to fly off the handle – or to push others out of the way and do the work yourself. The worst part is that you have to have those difficult conversations. Ugh!  

And if you don’t, you know the problem will only get worse. Lowering your standards is not the answer. Having others redo the work is a recipe for resentment. Constantly operating in fire-fighting mode is stressful, leaving little time for innovation, creativity and joy.

Problems that are chronically avoided create a toxic work environment.

Unfortunately, you cannot completely avoid reactive accountability. You have to tally the metrics and address the mishaps, wins, and mixed performances that are parts of business and life. But you can have a lot less stress in your life and business when you embrace proactive accountability.

Proactive accountability reduces the likelihood of misfires and increases the probability of success. It’s also a lot more fun. Proactive accountability is what you do to shape behavior. You set expectations, provide the nudges that celebrate the right actions, and adjust the habits that lead to breakdowns.

Remember when you taught your child to ride a bike? You didn’t simply correct them when they fell over (reactive accountability), you showed them how to ride and encouraged the right habits.

Keep pedaling!
Keep your back straight!
Look where you want to go!
You got it! Keep going
!

If you saw them wobbling or slowing their pedal speed, you nudged them to change their actions because you knew in advance the consequences of bad habits and poor skills.

Your awesomeness in teaching your child to ride a bike is your secret to leadership success.

By encouraging the behaviors and habits that lead to success and nudging ineffective practices in a better direction, you dramatically increase the chances of superior performance — and joyful high-fives when it comes to measuring results.

You’re right back on track with:

  • “I like how you made the customer feel heard and addressed his problem immediately.”
  • “You did right by raising the red flag on this safety concern. Now we can fix it before someone gets hurt.”
  • “You nailed it when you took action to fix that bottleneck. That’s exactly the initiative we need.”

Proactive accountability improves results and creates more opportunities for joyful reactive accountability.

Schedule a call with Chris

Better accountability increases performance and reduces corrective action, so you have the time and energy to innovate and grow.

The 3 C’s of Accountability

1. Clarity. Your expectations must be so clear that an 8-year-old could say them to you perfectly. People need to know the why behind the expectations. All you need to do is add “so that we achieve x. y, z outcomes.”

Checklists are terrific ways to make expectations clear. If they’re good enough for astronauts to use, then they’re probably intelligent steps for me and you.

2. Consistent Consequences. Recognize when people are doing the little things right and be specific. “I like how you took the initiative to pull the irate customer away from Jim.”

Apply the right nudge when you see indicators that the person has not yet mastered the proper habits, “Here’s a different way to defuse tension. [Practice] How does that feel to you?”

Step in when you notice someone is distracted, “You seem pre-occupied today. Am I wrong about that?” If necessary, give them the time to deal with whatever’s on their mind so they can rejoin the workday free of distractions.

Standards are arbitrary if you only address them on certain days of the week or with some people and not others. If the rules do not apply to you, they should not apply to any other employee.

Model the behaviors you expect from everyone on your team. When you don’t do that, people see you as a hypocrite.

At the same time, people expect you to account for extenuating circumstances with sound judgment.

3. Caring. People respond well to feedback when they believe you have their best interests at heart. Otherwise, they feel like you are picking on them or playing favorites. Use your weekly 15-minute check-in with your subordinates and quarterly counseling to build your relationship, help them develop and use their superpowers, and set them up for future success.

accountability

You can tell whether you have accountability by the number of skill breakdowns that occur.

Inadequate accountability leads to high error rates because people do not know what right looks like. Even after corrective action, they find new ways to achieve skill breakdowns.

The reason why is pretty simple: there are infinite ways to screw up something and only a few ways to perform it correctly.

Jim was a yeller. He would fly off the handle whenever something did not meet his standards. “I’m holding them accountable,” he told me.

How’s that working for you?

“I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’ve seen the employees do it right before, so I know they can do it. They choose not to, and I cannot figure out why.”

When do you hold people accountable?

“When they screw up.”

There’s the problem. That’s lazy accountability.

“What do you mean?”

Any amateur can tell when a skill breakdown occurs. That’s easy. What’s difficult is to notice the little things that point to success or failure.

The #1 myth about accountability is that it is punishment or corrective action.

Eighty percent of accountability should be a celebration of what’s going right.

When you were teaching a kid to ride a bike, did you yell at her when she fell over, “What’s the matter with you?”

Or did you encourage successful behavior? “Keep pedaling, focus your eyes on where you want to go…”

Accountability is the art of bringing about the desired behavior. You need to let people know what right looks like and encourage the habits that lead to success.

You also need to notice the little indicators of things going astray and address them before the skill breakdown occurs. An early nudge in the right direction is far easier and less costly than cleaning up a problem.

The pros in any endeavor know the little things that lead to success or failure and focus on shaping desired behaviors.

Accountability is what you use to build greater load-bearing capacity. If you don’t build an accountable workplace, you’ll experience repeated breakdowns and feel trapped in a game of whack-a-mole.

The good news is that fostering accountability is a learnable leadership skill.

Click HERE to schedule a call with Chris

Better accountability increases performance and reduces corrective action so that you have the time and energy to innovate and grow.

The three C’s of Accountability

1. Clarity. Your expectations must be so clear that an 8-year-old could say them to you perfectly. People need to know the why behind the expectations. All you need to do is add “so that we achieve x. y, z outcomes.”

Checklists are terrific ways to make expectations clear. If they’re good enough for astronauts to use, then they’re probably intelligent steps for me and you.

2. Consequences. Recognize when people are doing the little things right and be specific. “I like how you took the initiative to pull the irate customer away from Jim.”

Apply the right nudge when you see indicators that the person has not yet mastered the proper habits, “Here’s a different way to defuse tension. [Practice] How does that feel to you?”

Step in when you notice someone is distracted, “You seem pre-occupied today. Am I wrong about that?” If necessary, give them the time to deal with whatever’s on their mind so they can rejoin the workday free of distractions.

3. Consistency. Standards are arbitrary if you only address them on certain days of the week or with some people and not others. If the rules do not apply to you, they should not apply to any other employee.

Model the behaviors you expect from everyone on your team. When you don’t do that, people see you as a hypocrite.

At the same time, people expect you to account for extenuating circumstances with sound judgment.

Without clarity, people are groping in the dark. The lack of consequences indicates a lack of seriousness. Inconsistency means the expectations are random.

Are you ready to improve accountability so that you soar to new heights?

schedule a call
mastermind group


respect

The truth about becoming a good leader: you don’t need to be loved or feared. You need people to respect you.

You can tell whether you have someone’s respect by how they act around you. Think of your employees, colleagues, or even your friends:

respect

Do they hide the truth, slow-roll implementation of your decisions, whisper behind your back, say what you want to hear but do something

OR

Or do they do the opposite: provide candid assessments, give you bad news immediately, give you their discretionary effort, and let you know when they disagree?

Leaders can struggle to gain respect. People will do what you say because you are their boss, but no one admires you for your position in the hierarchy, your paycheck, or the credentials on your wall. Without respect, you are not a leader. You are simply a person putting on a management exhibition.

Here are five ways to earn respect:

1. Follow the Socrates principle. Socrates gave everyone he was speaking with his full attention. You communicate that you value the other person and what they are saying. Multi-tasking conveys the opposite: you are less important than the TikTok notification that just popped on my phone. What you hoped was saving time creates miscommunication, failure work, and disengagement.

2. Observe the Platinum Rule. Treat people as they wish to be treated. Doing so means that you need to get to know them and their interests, concerns, and expectations. You don’t want to be the creep who tries to hug everybody because you like hugs.

3. Be the Exemplar. People learn best from example. Model the behaviors you expect from everyone on your team. When you don’t do that, people see you as a hypocrite. If the rule’s not important enough for you to follow, get rid of it.

4. Use common-sense consistency. People believe the standards and rules are arbitrary when you are not consistent. You cannot have rules that apply to some people and not others or that you enforce sometimes but ignore the rest. At the same time, people expect you to account for extenuating circumstances with sound judgment.

5. Be worthy of trust. You gain trust through competence, character, and reciprocity. If you are not competent, you won’t be able to do what you are supposed to do. Without character, people won’t believe that you will do what you say you will do. When you take, take, take while your employees suffer poor pay and conditions, people see you as a bully or thief rather than a leader they want to follow.

Higher workplace respect leads to lower anxiety and stress, less time wasted in dispute resolution, fewer misunderstandings, and smaller amounts of failure work. What would change if you cut in half the time you waste dealing with these problems?

Do you want to improve how your subordinate leaders earn respect? Schedule a call. https://callSLA.as.me/Chris

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Working with Chris has helped me visualize and communicate more clearly, gain the buy-in that inspires greater performance, and put my subordinates in positions to succeed.
Andy Weins, CEO, Green Up Solutions





You have to put strategy, innovation, leadership development, growth, and other important-but-not-urgent initiatives on the back burner, even though these matters are vital for durable success.

Chronic workplace conflict consumes your time, saps your energy, increases anxiety, and adds frustration to everyday stress.

Sometimes the conflict is overt. People get into arguments, and meetings drag on endlessly as managers bicker back and forth but never seem to get anywhere. Silos become ends in themselves — your direct reports focus on looking good in their lanes but lose sight of the bigger picture.

Bureaucratic scheming happens below the surface. People ignore new demands without several prompts. Managers slow roll changes they oppose hoping that the new initiative implodes. The more aggressive practice guerilla warfare to undermine changes or stab their colleagues in the back. The most brazen do what they want to do and tell you what you want to hear.

Conflict consumes time and energy because it’s urgent and important: you must address it. You have to put strategy, innovation, leadership development, growth, and other important-but-not-urgent initiatives on the back burner, even though these matters are vital for durable success. You try to think through them in the evenings, but you are too exhausted and tired of sacrificing your family and other priorities to the hamster wheel at work. Chopping the same wood gets harder as your ax dulls.

conflict

It does not have to be this way.

Many leaders look for solutions in the wrong places. Play areas, company picnics, and more remote work opportunities can be good ideas, but they do not reduce or resolve conflict. The reduction in cognitive diversity among businesses is a new, alarming trend. More CEOs reportedly surround themselves with people who share their political opinions and get rid of those who don’t.

Professional workplace conflict can only be about two issues: goals and ways to achieve them.

That’s it. Period.

By isolating the source of the disagreement, you can manage conflict and strengthen your team. Here are some action steps to help you do that.

1. Check commitment to the goal. Ensure you are framing the objective to include the “SO THAT” — the results or outcomes you aim to achieve. “Improve our pre-execution process SO THAT we reduce the number of expensive mistakes and improve cost forecasting.” If all parties agree on the destination, the conflict is about ways to get there.

2. Understand the options. Ways are tricky to resolve because they involve differing facts, interpretations, and prescriptions.

Ask people to put their prescriptions on the table, so everyone is clear on the options. Have them note the reasons for their position and what factors would cause them to change it. This approach improves open-mindedness.

3. Establish the relevant facts. You need to be working from a common data set, or you’ll spin your wheels.

4. What do the facts mean? Interpretations of the relevant data are the source of most “ways disagreements.” Some of the filters people use are status quo, confirmation bias, and risk aversion. Get the mental models into the open. Once the interpretations are aligned or differences are clear, then you can debate the ways forward.

5. Discuss the prescriptions. If the matter is time-sensitive, you might need to gather input and decide yourself. Otherwise, you can improve buy-in by letting your subordinates develop a solution or present you with options for decision.

conflict

If everyone agrees on the goals and ways but workplace conflict persists, you have an unprofessional personal dispute; you should fire the people responsible.

Do you want to discuss one of your workplace conflicts? Reply to this email or Schedule a call. https://callSLA.as.me/Chris

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Chris’s leader archetypes have given me a framework to think about leader diversity and what natural inclinations people bring to the table. It’s also helped me communicate more effectively and develop action plans with my team and clients.
Karen Seitz, Founder and Managing Director, Fusion Partners Global

We see at least a 50% improvement in ownership and engagement, and our conversion numbers have increased by 15%, bringing more revenue into the company.
Stefan McFarland, Vice President, Aspire

Working with Chris has helped me visualize and communicate more clearly, gain the buy-in that inspires greater performance, and put my subordinates in positions to succeed.
Andy Weins, CEO, Green Up Solutions