By Lynne Maureen Hurdle
“I grew up watching Emma Peel on the TV show, The Avengers. Everything she did from walking into a room, handling a difficult conversation and delivering a fierce side-kick, she did with extreme confidence. The impact she had on me was… here is a woman who knows that she is highly skilled in talking to people in any conflict situation who chooses to take it to the extreme (in her case using martial arts) only when her life is in danger.
With all the conflict that is happening and with every major business magazine and journal reporting on the importance of leaders building healthy relationships and diverse, high functioning teams, social skills are fast becoming the primary tools for success. Those who will be most successful in making major and impactful change are those leaders who can be Bold when it comes to conflict.
Bold Leaders know that they must skillfully and willingly
A critically important and often missed point is Bold Leaders continuously go within themselves to search for and own what they do to escalate conflict. We all have the potential to escalate, because we all have triggers. Triggers are fueled by emotions which set off reactions rather than responses. Bold leaders know that in order to take triggers off our plate we must examine our own feelings toward conflict and discover the root causes for them.
One of my favorite leadership stories dealing with this point is one told by Dan Gilbert owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. In an interview with Forbes Magazine, he discussed his conflict with LeBron James. You know, the famous one when LeBron announced in a not so nice way that he was leaving the Cavaliers and going to the Miami Heat. Gilbert admits that he “went off” in a very public manner. “I can have a short fuse at times … I can’t believe I actually went off like that… I might be right about what I felt, but I should have taken a half hour to think about it first.” He thoughtfully recalls that receiving praise and accolades for his bad behavior kept him from really evaluating it for quite some time. However, once he took the time to examine the scenario, he was forced to go within and discover a part of himself that needed some work. He learned some hard but good lessons about his emotional response. Doing the work prepared him to get past that embarrassing moment, reach out to LeBron and work things out. At that in-person meeting, the first words he said were, “We had five good years and one bad night.” LeBron’s response? “Apology accepted.” Now that is Bold Leadership.
The truth about conflict is. Most of us don’t like it, want nothing to do with it and some of us even run from it. But, conflict is really about communicating and as a leader, you do that every day. You just need your words and actions to have the impact on others that help them hear you, understand your vision, get inspired and moved to action in even the most difficult situations. That’s the kind of action that creates both happiness, longevity and profits.
Difficult situations and conflict in general however bring up a lot of negative feelings for leaders because as the one in charge you know that ultimately conflict is going to reach your door and you are going to be expected to do something about it. Most leaders try to put that day of reckoning off as long as possible which only fosters resentment, frustration and escalation of the conflict.”
Known as The Conflict Closer, Lynne Maureen Hurdle is a Bronx native, Conflict Resolution Strategist, TEDx Speaker, Author and Facilitator who writes for Psychology Today.