It would be great if every business ran like clockwork, with no issues or problems of any kind.
But I can tell you from decades of experience in many facets of many businesses – this ideal is far from reality. Not for any business…not even for the one you are thinking of right now that may appear to run with flawless perfection.
The fact is, businesses are made up of people, and each person is different. We each come packaged with a unique set of strengths, skills, talents, and life experiences. Add to that the outside forces of technology, regulations, customer/client expectations, and world events.
When you think about it, it is amazing that anything works at all!
As a leader, you are endowed with the task of making all these pieces work together. This is the challenge leaders take on every day in business. Those who lead well create success, not only for themselves, but for their people, their clients and customers, and for the world in which they serve.
How can you as a leader deal with difficult situations in business?
1. Expect them.
This is the simplest of points, yet we human beings enjoy the delusion of denial. We strive for perfection, and we should. But if you expect there will be difficult situations – in fact, you anticipate them – this puts you in the driver’s seat to pre-determine how you would resolve them.
This is where we can learn a lesson from our talented C-wired friends in areas like risk management and crisis communication…or NASA. They take considerable time thinking of what could go wrong – all the “what if’s” that most of us would prefer to dismiss from our thinking. By doing so, they are able to determine procedures and protocols to prevent disastrous outcomes.
2. Diffuse them.
In any difficult situation, whether it is with humans, machinery, or technology, the first step to resolution is to diffuse it. “Diffuse” is from Latin and means “to spread or pour forth.”
When dealing with people, this may mean letting them vent or listening without judgment as they confess a mistake. For technology, it may mean documenting all the issues or looking at the processing. For machinery, it could entail taking something apart so you can see all the pieces.
Diffusing a situation is not “containing it” – it is “getting it all out there.”
This has two effects: (1) It lowers the temperature caused by friction; and (2) It allows you to see what you are dealing with.
3. Examine them.
Once the situation has been diffused, examine it carefully. You are looking for the problem. Too often, we apply a bandage to the symptom without fully addressing the root cause. And then, inevitably, it flares up again, only worse.
This is especially true when dealing with people. As a leader, you may think you have resolved a conflict between two co-workers, only to discover they are right back at it the next day, each firmly entrenched in his or her respective passive-aggressive silo.
Applying a bandage to the situation every day gets old fast, and the unresolved conflict affects your entire team. You can resolve it by learning what is important to each person, and by determining their motivators and what type of work environment is best for each.
You can consider whether or not their work is in alignment with their strengths. This is where the Maxwell Method of Communication Impact Report can help you bring resolution. It identifies with scientific precision the strengths of each person and how they can be at their best.
Examining strengths, motivators, and environment plus the root problem are the two keys you need to unlock and permanently disarm the conflict.
Do you want to become a great leader? Become a master at dealing with difficult situations.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.