We have all seen the managers who avoid conflict. These are the type of managers who believe and even hope that when a situation arises in their business and workplace that time will allow that issue to slowly go away. Unfortunately that is seldom the case.
Strong leaders learn to address these issues right away, no matter how uncomfortable the issue. A strong leader realizes that if they address and confront the issue at hand, they can work to resolve the issue, learn more about the issue and its cause, and then get past the issue.
This is what makes an environment of strong leadership.
Leadership training teaches that “Confrontation is a benefit.” What does that mean? Does confrontation mean to cause an argument? To be confrontational? Not exactly.
Confrontation is a benefit means to confront things head on, constructively, and professionally. This is what strong leaders do. They live by the philosophy and instill it in their team to confront issues with each other, with partners, clients, and yes, even their customers.
My mentor taught me as an exercise to take all customer complaints. We had taken a struggling and underperforming business with the intent of turning around the business. This business had quality and service issues with their product, and customer service issues from their sales people. It was a vicious cycle.
Confrontation is a benefit. This is what my mentor spoke to me. He stated he wanted me to take all customer complaints. My mentor and manager witnessed that the sales staff would avoid taking customer complaints and even have the complaints redirected to email or voicemail. This resulted in a customer who became even more frustrated as their complaint was not being addressed.
So we let the entire staff know that all customer complaints will be forwarded to me. The receptionist and my administrative assistant knew we put priority on handling any customer complaint in real time. My mentor and I even drafted a four stage process to handle the complaints.
Soon I was speaking with clients as the complaints came in. Quickly we even identified situations that might turn into a complaint and addressed those issues immediately. We became proactive. Not every situation was pleasant, but our customers were appreciative. They were glad someone cared enough to listen and then take action.
As time passed we committed to correcting any of the situations that created the complaint. Because we confronted the issues we learned more about our business and saw things from the customers’ point of view. We were able to put processes and practices in place that made us better.
By confronting the issues we earned long term clients and developed trust in our community. By confronting the issues we developed a culture within our employees of doing the same. The team direction and vision was clear and resolving issues became important to all.
You may have heard the term “First Team.” It is not a term or a dream, it can be a reality that instills a culture that we address things First Team, and not let others address it with anyone else unless they addressed it first with the responsible individual.
Strong leaders do not let situations distract their teams. They confront situations to help develop and strengthen their teams. Whether it’s an employee dispute, a customer service issues, or an issue with management, only by confronting the issue will we build a culture that automatically knows that leadership is leading. We cannot drive the culture we desire without confronting issues.
Confrontation is a benefit. Teach it to your managers and watch them become leaders.