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Can You Reframe Conflict?

I suppose there are some people who enjoy conflict, but most of us prefer to avoid it. In several client meetings recently, we discussed reasons for avoiding difficult situations such as telling a subordinate that their performance is unacceptable or standing up to a bullying boss. People typically put off those conversations because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or because they are afraid of possible repercussions.

I asked my clients to evaluate the cost of avoiding the conversation versus the benefit of having it. Being honest with a subordinate who isn’t performing up to expectations means we are supporting the rest of the team in meeting deliverable commitments. What is the cost to our credibility and our health when we allow our boss to treat us unfairly?

We then explored what might happen if we reframed the concept of conflict as an opportunity for collaboration:
• Disagreements could be addressed in a timely manner
• Colleagues could know their strengths and areas for development
• We could establish healthy boundaries for how we expect to be treated

Reframing conflict isn’t easy. It requires:
• Understanding what makes us uncomfortable
• Considering the cost and benefit of each possible reaction
• Choosing how we will respond

I invite you to think about a recent conflict you experienced and how the outcome might have changed if you had approached it with a different mindset. Share your story with me cheryl@csbryan.com

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Accountability Starts with You

My client was frustrated because her direct reports didn’t have their business plans ready. She extended the deadline and sent them reminders, but they still didn’t get them done. My client extended the deadline several more times and sent additional reminders. She couldn’t understand why this was such a problem.

When I asked, “What are the consequences of not getting the business plan done on time?” my client realized that she had not established or implemented any consequences. Her message to her subordinates was that the deadline was flexible. My client also communicated that she would be responsible for helping them remember their commitments. Neither of those were messages she intended to convey.

As we focused on creating a different outcome, my client committed to explaining her new approach to each member of the leadership team. She would expect them to keep their commitments and she would not be sending reminders. If her subordinates met or exceeded my client’s expectations, they would be recognized and compensated accordingly. If they did not meet her expectations, they should expect corrective action.

How are you holding your team accountable? Consider the following suggestions:

  • Communicate expectations clearly – have each person confirm their understanding.
  • Be specific about positive and negative consequences – be aware of what motivates your subordinates and use that to create incentives, but know what you can and will enforce if they don’t perform.
  • Follow through – unless you do what you say you will do, you aren’t holding people accountable.

I invite you to evaluate your approach to holding people accountable. If you feel that you could improve in this area, contact me at cheryl@csbryan.com

 

 

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Do You Have Executive Presence?

Most of us recognize executive presence when we see it. We also recognize when we don’t see it. When successful executives hit a career obstacle, a lack of presence may be the issue.

I am coaching a laid back Ph. D whose boss wasn’t sure he was ready for a promotion. Feedback from my interviews with his colleagues indicated that he needed to speak up more in meetings to ensure that he was making a strong impression. Although my client didn’t want to state the obvious, he agreed to try speaking up sooner with constructive observations. He found that he was able to project self-confidence rather than self-promotion.

Executive presence is conveyed by:

What you say
Knowing your subject is critical. Communicating expertise through intelligent questions is very effective. Concise remarks that reflect insight have a much greater impact than a lecture.

How you say it
Use a warm tone of voice to project confidence rather than arrogance. Persuasion doesn’t necessarily require volume, but you must speak loudly enough for everyone to hear.

What you don’t say
Posture is power. Whether standing or sitting, you want to command attention and confidence. Sit slightly forward in your chair and lean in without compromising personal space. Avoid distracting habits like drumming your fingers or clicking your pen.

You can change behaviors to enhance your executive presence and help you achieve your career goals. To explore how coaching can support you contact me at cheryl@csbryan.com

 

 

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Are You Leading From Your Heart?

Since February is all about Valentine’s Day, hearts have been everywhere since right after Christmas. I have been thinking about the differences between leading from your head, your gut and your heart.

Many of my clients are technically oriented leaders in operations, finance, accounting and IT. They were trained to trust their intellect and have typically been rewarded for doing so. Somewhere along the career path, they were advised to “trust their gut.” It takes a great deal of confidence for an intellectual to make that leap, but it is part of progressing to the executive level. Senior executives must analyze information at a high level and make decisions that have major impact on the business and employees.

I invite you to consider that the next evolution at the executive level is trusting your heart. You can rely on your intellect and your gut only to a point, and then you have to tap into the emotional realm. If you ignore that feeling of regret or sadness when you have to cut staff, it makes you less human. True leaders acknowledge their feelings while making the tough decisions. Trusting your heart will also enable you to know what motivates your team. More than money and title, they likely want to have a purpose, feel valued and contribute to the greater good.

Will you go beyond leading from your head and your gut to leading from your heart?