Balconey View – Going “deeper” amidst conflict

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” Henry Kissinger

It is easy to get frustrated as we lead/work with people. Especially when we encounter negative feedback or resistance to partnership as we journey together. In the midst of the conflict it is important to remember that conflict gives us the opportunity to see what lies beneath the surface…which would otherwise have remained unseen.

Example: An employee/partner may approach you and suggest that they are disappointed with how they are being treated, how they are being paid, or something like. Your mind goes to the defense…”Have you any idea how hard I…” and so on…

This path leads to the cycle of crazies.

Stepping back and taking a balcony view brings fresh perspective. Why does the employee/partner feel this way? What has/has not be communicated in regards to their feelings? This is the first level of questioning…

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Understanding Leadership

As I write about understanding the leader’s call, it occurred to me that I should highlight an article that I had published in SaskBusiness this past January, “What Defines Leadership; It begins with personal character“(PDF).

What Defines Leadership: It begins with personal character

“Our business leaders must stop seeking to be the best in the world, and start being the best for the world.”
– Richard Barrett, The New Leadership Paradigm

It may initially sound noble to desire to be the best in the world at what we do. We all know that it takes thousands of hours to master a skill, to hone a craft into a finely tuned art form. To rise to levels of excellence in any vocation, one must be dedicated and diligent in discipline and practice.

To be a great golfer, one must move beyond hitting every shot once in a while, to only missing a shot once in a while. To be a great hockey player, one must understand the strategy of the game, have mastery of personal skill and learn how to move to where the puck is going to be, as Wayne Gretzky puts it.

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Trusted Foundations

In “Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team” Patrick Lencioni identifies TRUST as the foundational requirement for all teams. Whatever the context / mission of the team, it is likely that this holds true for all.

Merriam-Webster defines Trust as a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone…

It is not about predictability, but more a matter of reliability of character, ability, strength…TRUTH of someone.

TRUST is hardwired to TRUTH.

As a trustworthy leader we need to be worthy of confidence. This is not about perfection, (for no one among us could ever be that) but more a matter of “knowing”. We are who we are in truth. We are consistent in this…a congruence pervades our life; an integral match between our stated/implied values, beliefs and behaviors.

I recently asked a friend to tell me what it was that made her feel that I was trustworthy. One part of her reply was that, “If you were to fall, I would likely understand that you had come up against something difficult to overcome…but not that I would think that I had not truly known you.”

Authentic transparency is part of this then, but so too is honesty, and selfless humility.

As a trustworthy leader we are open and teachable, and do not fear our weakness, but rather acknowledge it, confront it, and commit to maturity for the sake of all.


“Do what is right, and deal with the consequences.”

I wonder if too often we look into the future to decide whether or not things will be favorable to us…enroute to making our decisions. Seeming sound and logical, this may not be right in all cases.

You have an opportunity to gain financially, and all you have to do is fudge the truth a bit. If you don’t fudge, you don’t know what will happen. Maybe you win, maybe you lose. The future looks uncertain, and who’s to know?

Or, someone you know is in a desperate situation. You have the ability to help. You can see where this will be a large challenge, you see that this may drag on for some time, and have no idea as to what a real exit looks like for you. There is no one else close by to help, and you see the veritable writing on the wall; they are going down. Do you leave them to “fate”, or do you engage?

There are hundreds, even thousands of scenarios that could be written here. The point is not so much in the detail of the situation as the principle of the decision. Do we look for what is right, or do we look for what benefits us in the end…the end being as far as we can see?

What truly benefits in the “final” end…further than we can presently “see”?

What do we respect most in others…(would we want someone to take advantage of or walk out on us?)…isn’t this what we would mostly likely desire to be as well?

Why not embrace the journey (along with the unkown detail of how it will all turn out) by simply determining to do what is right, and then dealing with whatever is to follow.