Saturday, September 24, 2011

Confronting Confrontation...

It's been a little while since I have discussed a leadership topic. I have been doing a lot of observing lately and it seems to me there is a misconception about confrontation within the realm of leadership. The most effective leaders are people that are not afraid to hold the people they lead accountable.

The misconception of holding people accountable or confronting an employee on something they did that did not meet your expectation is that people imagine there is going to be yelling, or aggression, or hurt feelings. That will happen every once in a while depending on the behavior you are trying to change, but it is most definitely the minority in accountability conversations. Most of the time it's just a coaching conversation, no different then the tone you would have with any other conversation. If you have the 'right' employee working for you, they want to know what your expectation is and whether they are meeting it, and if they are not meeting your expectation they will be more disappointed with your leadership if you don't communicate. The top things an employee wants from a job, even before a high pay, is being challenged and a feeling of accomplishment. If you fail to communicate expectations you fail as a leader to provide both of those things. If someone doesn't know what they did right or wrong then they will not feel accomplished, and if someone isn't told what they are doing wrong they will not be challenged to do it correctly next time. Eventually, that employee becomes disheartened and disengaged, they do not feel the need to learn new things and you become frustrated as a leader because you find the people around you are not willing to pick up anymore slack then the minimum.

Confrontation in the realm of leadership is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, you should fear the lack of confrontation because it's the only effective way to hold people accountable. If you fail to have conversations with your people, you fail your people. So next time something doesn't meet your expectations, do not be afraid to communicate that with that person. Ultimately you will both be happy you did.

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