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Create Opportunity by Leading Through Conflict

Post by Jerry Baker on May 13, 2015

If you are in busi­ness, then it’s a guar­an­tee that you will encounter dif­fi­cul­ties or tough times. Stuff hap­pens that is unplanned and unex­pected. Some chal­lenges are big. Some start out small, and quickly esca­late. Some chal­lenges can be of our own mak­ing, and some may be the result of exter­nal changes.

In many ways, suc­cess in busi­ness is about learn­ing to man­age through the dif­fi­cult times. When tough times come along, we need to focus our energy on what we can directly impact, and learn to cope with the obsta­cles we can’t change. Many of our chal­lenges relate to man­ag­ing peo­ple. We must direct and lead our teams to over­come the obsta­cles we face.

Deal­ing With What Can Be Changed

How do we deal with the obsta­cles that get in the way of achiev­ing our goals and ambitions? There are issues we can influ­ence and impact, and those we can’t. It’s impor­tant that we learn to quickly dis­tin­guish between the two, and then con­front the ones we can impact.

Per­for­mance issues may be improved through bet­ter train­ing. Strate­gic issues may be solved by set­ting aside a day to exam­ine your long-term strat­egy. Oper­at­ing issues may be resolved through stream­lin­ing or upgrad­ing cur­rent processes. When issues arise in areas that are within our con­trol, they need our focus sooner than later. The longer we take to address prob­lems, the big­ger they become. Action is crit­i­cal for the types of issues that we can resolve. Those actions need to be spe­cific with a clear plan for account­abil­ity. Of course, not all issues are within our control.

Han­dling What Can’t Be Changed

There will always be exter­nal forces that impact our busi­ness results. Gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions may change, finan­cial mar­kets may slide, and com­peti­tors may act in unpre­dictable ways. It doesn’t pay to waste time and energy on issues that you have no hope of influ­enc­ing. There are times when we need to learn to cope with and man­age through our circumstances. When your envi­ron­ment alters, you can choose your response. Changes may be nec­es­sary, but they may not. Eval­u­ate each chal­lenge care­fully. Don’t be too quick to tear down what you have spent a long time building.

Lead­ing Through Tough Times

When times get tough, lead­ers need to be out in front, help­ing to con­front the chal­lenges. When action is required to improve per­for­mance, it needs to be clearly com­mu­ni­cated. You’ll never get where you need to be unless employ­ees and man­agers are all pulling in the same direction. Invite them to par­tic­i­pate in address­ing per­for­mance issues as well as exter­nal chal­lenges. Then, make sure to keep every­one informed of progress as changes are made.

Clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion is crit­i­cal, espe­cially in times where fear is preva­lent. Don’t be afraid to dis­cuss what isn’t work­ing and what needs to be done. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is also needed when there are chal­lenges beyond your con­trol, and the best deci­sion is to NOT take action. Your peo­ple need to under­stand why. Your silence may lead them to believe that you are blind to the problems. Tough times can also cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties. Lead­ers can make a big dif­fer­ence by keep­ing the team focused on tak­ing advan­tage of those opportunities./

No busi­ness is immune to chal­lenges. But if you can lead your team safely through the tough times, you’ll emerge strong and ready to take full advan­tage when the good times return.

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Jerry Baker

Jerry Baker

Jerry Baker joined Building Champions as a CEO Mentor in 2009. He has experienced the impact of coaching firsthand as a client and corporate partner of Building Champions. He most recently served as CEO, President and member of the Board of Directors of First Horizon National Corporation and First Tennessee Bank.

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