Ever think that if you ignore something, it will go away? I have. That rarely happens, yet this is an ongoing blind spot for many leaders. It is an “intentional blind spot” in that we know we are doing it, but what we’re blind to is its destructive fallout. We convince ourselves that keeping peace and ignoring conflict is better than facing the problem.
So why do we tend to avoid the tough challenges with others? Here are some of the reasons I’ve avoided confrontation:
1) My fear of being rejected.
That’s right. I like everyone to like me. By the way, that’s crazy! In ministry, we can ignore crucial conversations just because we want to keep everyone happy. The moment you put your desire to liked over the need to address a problem, you’ve lost your leadership.
2) My lack of knowing how.
Simply put, I didn’t know how to deal with conflict constructively. Most of us didn’t have good models of conflict resolution nor were we trained in school.
3) My concern about their emotional reaction.
Any time there is conflict, emotions run high. Frankly, I’ve seen people blow up and react in some very ungodly ways. Keeping one’s own emotions under control is essential if we are to engage in meaningful dialogue.
When we begin avoiding people and situations that make us uncomfortable, we give up a part of our leadership. We’re saying “I’m unwilling to step up and take responsibility for this situation. Instead, I’ll leave the bad situation the way it is.” — Joseph LaLonde
To be a good leader we must face the problem. In Basic Training, soldiers are taught to run to the sound of gunfire, rather than follow their natural instinct to run away. That’s a good lesson for every leader.
Here are a few first steps you can take to face the challenge:
- Ask God for wisdom in the situation.
- Make an appointment. Connect with those who are involved with the problem and let them know you want to talk about the situation. Get it on the calendar and you’ll no longer be able to avoid it!
- Listen. Listen. Listen. Seek understanding and ask for clarification. Begin with thoughtful questions, not your perspective. Often, the chance to state their case and be heard will soften their hear so that wise counsel can be received.
- Plan to work together to fix the problem.
- If the situation can’t be resolved, ask for outside help. Asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength, not weakness.
BEFORE YOU GO
Smoothing things over only postpones the pain and often allows time for the situation to get worse. What else would you add to this topic of “avoidance” as you lead?
Next Week’s Blind Spot #5 “Inconsistency”