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 goal of turning around the business. This business had quality and service issues with their product, and customer service issues from their salespeople. 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 notified the entire staff 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. Our customers were glad someone cared enough to listen and act.
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 were clear and resolving issues became important to all.
You may have heard the term “First Team.” It is not just 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 is 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.
his statement may sound confusing. You cannot convince the convinced? What does that mean?
Little did I know, or little did I realize how much my mother was suited for leadership development. She was a housewife with the most unconditional love I hope we all received from our mothers. But when I think about the lessons she taught me I realized that she did not only teach me about growing up, or about life, but she taught me about leadership and yes, she even taught me about business.
So there I was, frustrated about a situation where I was trying to give close friends of mine advice and even warnings of a situation about their possible decision and their opinion could not be swayed. I even pointed out past examples of what they were planning and that others had attempted similar plans before and the results and consequences of those past attempts failed.
It is important to realize, this is not to say we should not attempt what others may have tried and failed. Technology and discoveries would not have advanced if others had not had the courage to do so. But those that overcame where others have failed understood that there was a lesson in the previous failure. Learning from that lesson was an important part of their planning, caution, and vision. They would understand what the future warning signs might be.
The important part of the lesson from my mother that she wanted to make me understand and learn from was for me to understand the reason I was frustrated. I was frustrated that I tried to give my opinion, believed that I gave good examples and made a good argument with facts and data. My frustration was that I believed my friends did not at least take a moment and listen to the information that might had assisted them if they decided to move forward.
She made me understand that I was more frustrated because I believed that I was not listened to, or that my data or facts were not considered. I believed I had a good argument and that my friends decided to move forward anyway. She counseled me that we can sometimes only be advisors or influencers and none of us truly wants to say, “I told you so.”
So there I was frustrated, and my mother saw this. I walked her through my frustration and the situation with my friends. She saw that I was more upset that they would not give me the benefit of their time. I had thought that through our association, friendship, and honest regard for their well-being that they would at least give me that benefit.
My mother paused, looked at me and said, “Mijo (my son), you cannot convince the convinced.” She explained that in life I will encounter situations where people may not give the benefit of at least listening, or they may not even want to hear it. Sometimes people get enamored with the idea instead of the plan. She said all I could do is give my effort by at least offering up my opinion and concerns.
My mother also stated that lessons will also teach me that my opinion may be vastly different, and although I may believe my opinion to be correct, the other opinions and ideas may still succeed. Just because it is my opinion does not mean that it is correct. In both experiences I need to be humble enough to learn. The fact that I gave my effort is all I could do.
The biggest lesson I learned and that we need to learn as leaders is to not let the frustration irritate us to the point that it continues to affect us. Other great leaders teach that sometimes people have their minds made up and all we can do is to offer our advice. Sometimes others need to learn from making their decisions and working through the results.
I value the lessons from my mother. She was the best business minded women I knew, and she chose to be a housewife. Yes mom, I know, you cannot convince the convinced. But as you taught me, at least I gave my opinion and concerns. I hope we all learn.