Secrets for staying poised and professional before, during, and after difficult conversations.
Face it: Every conversation you have, across the entire 360° of your sphere of influence, results in the possibility of you triggering someone – or them triggering you. Yes, just from the very nature of the conversations leaders must have, every single day, the probability of you triggering someone, or someone triggering you – even accidentally – is ever-present.
It’s not that conflict is inherently bad – because it’s not. It’s what helps stimulate the creativity and resolve to make things meaningfully better.
But you DO have to know how to manage it constructively.
DOWN the Chain –
These are the conflicts where you, the leader, must provide performance feedback to staff who may, or may not be interested in (or in agreement with) your assessment of them, but absolutely need to hear you in order to meet the ongoing needs of the organization. They can choose what they choose, but it’s your job to make sure they know, full well, the implications of their choices.
So how good are you with these types of accountability and realignment discussions? What happens when you fail to address important issues in a timely manner with your direct reports?
If Managing DOWN is the most ‘thought of’ direction in which to lead, which it is, how good are you with these types of conflicts? What triggers you about them? And what happens when that happens?
ACROSS the Chain –
These are the conflicts where you, the leader, must ask (and convince) your peers and cross-functional team members from other departments and organizations to stop what they’re doing so they can work on what YOU want them to do, instead. No small task. So how compelling your are at communicating and influencing those you have no formal authority over matters greatly.
What happens when you can’t get them to listen or agree with you? What doesn’t get done because of it? And what’s collateral damage from inadvertently triggering your peers in the process?
Managing ACROSS is the most ‘discounted’ direction in which to lead. Which means you likely need to become more skilled at managing these types of conflicts. So what are you doing to become more intentionally more influential with your peers and industry contacts and connections? How are you building others readiness to follow your lead? Or is your impact already where you want it to be?
UP the Chain –
These are the conflicts where you, the leader, must squirrel up all your courage and tell your boss what s/he’s doing wrong – and what you REALLY need to achieve your absolute best work, – notwithstanding whatever immediate push-back or negative consequences your fear.
Of course how well (or poorly) you do it makes all the difference. So how good are you with managing these types of conversations? How is your poise and presence with those having more authority than you; with those having authority over you? How often to you even forget (or ignore) this part of your job? And what happens to your esteem (and effectiveness) when you let your boss ignore, or run roughshod over you?
Managing UP is the most ‘under-utilized’ direction in which to lead. There’s tremendous power in knowing how to manage such conflicts constructively. What are you doing to become increasingly better at them? Where are the gaps in your skills and confidence? How are you helping them not get triggered by your questions and comments?
WITHIN Oneself –
Last, but surely not least, these are the conflicts where you, the leader, must grapple with the conflict within YOURSELF – those counterproductive thoughts, feeling, and behaviors that keep you doubting, unsure, off-balanced, second-guessing yourself, and reluctant to learn, grow, and achieve more meaningfully. Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? Can I handle this stress and strain? Do I even know what to do, here?
Being in conflict with yourself, like this, dilutes your reputation, identity, impact, happiness, and success – past, present, and future – more quickly, and sometimes more permanently, than you likely realize. Unless you’ve already seen this.
That’s why Managing WITHIN is the most challenging direction in which to lead, and THE most important area of focus for any thinking, caring, human being in a leadership role. It’s also why your ability to manage these types of conflicts is the single-best predictor of your leadership success and potential.
Conflict Management and Trigger Control
Barry Zweibel focuses as intently as he does on helping leaders see their leadership development through this conflict management perspective because he knows that improving one’s trigger controls and hot buttons is the fastest, easiest, most reliable, and most enjoyable path to increased, and sustained leadership TRACTION.
“Thanks to Barry Zweibel, I’m getting triggered less, building my influence more, and becoming the leader I always hoped I could be!”
Are you starting to see why conflict management, is so important to leadership development and influence skill-building? Is it making sense how ALL leaders can accelerate their leadership development by becoming more capable at handling challenge situations and difficult conversations?
- What are YOU doing to actively manage your triggers?
- Who tends to trigger you?
- Who you tend to trigger?
- How are you improving these dynamics?
If you’re already constructive during conflict, great! But if you’re not – and most leaders are not – then we really should talk.
Assess Your Conflict Competency
LeadershipTraction uses the Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP) assessment to help people improve their leadership, communications, and conflict competency by providing managers and employees with a greater awareness of how they respond when faced with conflict so that they can improve on those behaviors causing the most problems. Importantly, the CDP focuses on conflict behaviors, rather than styles, emphasizing an action-oriented approach which lessens the problems associated with harmful or unproductive forms of conflict and results in more effective conflict management skills.
There are three versions of the Conflict Dynamics Profile assessment:
- The CDP-Individual (CDP-I) self-assessment – a “self-report” that looks at how you view yourself – and how you compare to others who have taken the assessment – across three key dimensions
- How capable you naturally are (and can become) at utilizing a specific set of DESIRABLE behaviors during a conflict – we’ll call these your CONSTRUCTIVE behaviors
- How capable you naturally are (and can become) at AVOIDING the use of a specific set of UNDESIRABLE behaviors during a conflict – these are DESTRUCTIVE behaviors
- How aware you naturally are (and can become) of what TRIGGERS you into conflict so you can better manage your impact – these are your HOT BUTTONS
- The CDP-360 (CDP-360°) multi-rater assessment – a full spectrum conflict competency profiling tool which compares and contrasts one’s self-assessment with that of one’s bosses, peers and direct reports, including:
- The three dimensions measured by the CDP-I
- How the individual responds before, during and after conflict
- Finer detail regarding others’ views
- Behaviors most likely to negatively affect one’s career based on one’s particular organization and corporate culture
- Additional comparative data across organizations and leaders
- Open-ended, free-form feedback
- The (free) Hot Button Sampler – a quick check to identify what’s most likely to trigger you into real (or perceived) conflict. (Tap or Click here to take the Sampler.)
Given how pervasive conflict is, it is essential that people have the skills to handle it effectively. By focusing specifically on this one topic, the Conflict Dynamics Profile assessment provides managers with in-depth feedback on their responses to conflict and how their behaviors impact others.
Ready to find out how Conflict Competent you and your staff are?
“How to Make Conflict Far Less Disruptive”
The CDP assessment is an excellent stand-alone tool, especially when coupled with a personalized debriefing with Barry. But for those organizations wanting more than just that, LeadershipTraction offers a variety of CDP-related programs and classes to help employees ‘dig in’ deeper.
“How to Make Conflict Far Less Disruptive” can be configured as a single 2-hour or half-day session or over the course of several weeks as an 8-hour, or 16-hour program – it all depends on how deep you want to go in helping your people deal more confidently and constructively with the conflict they face.
Each program starts with the CDP and includes a personalized debriefing and one or more 1-on-1 check-ins with with the instructor – so attendees can share their personal experiences in applying the materials and fine-tune how best to put them to increasingly productive use.
Let’s customize something that works for you!
Learn more about the “How to Make Conflict Far Less Disruptive” program.