Every session with one of our Leadership Teams starts with what we call the “Check In,” which generally consists of several questions that help us transition from working “in” our business to working “on” our business. One question is always, “What are your expectations for today?”
I check in after each member of the Leadership Team is done. And my ongoing expectation is always, “Please be open and honest – just say it.” And this is one of the most difficult behaviors for a Leadership Team to exhibit – for lots of reasons.
Generally, those reasons are along the lines of being fearful of what their honesty will unleash; not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings; unsure of how to articulate the issue or concern; not wanting to start an argument; or not wanting to generate a discussion in the presence of the entire team.
Enter The Danger
But not being open and honest limits our ability to solve the long-standing issues in our companies. You’ve seen them – the elephant standing in the corner – the gremlin under the desk that you hope won’t raise its ugly head today because you’re too busy to deal with it.
EOS® Implementers are fanatical about banishing the elephants and the gremlins. We take a risk and walk into the potential conflict. Yes, you read that correctly – we enter the danger.
We are comfortable with conflict for several reasons:
- It creates healthy, functional teams that do not allow issues to disrupt their work.
- We call out conflict when we see eyes roll or people studying their shoes.
- We don’t always know the outcome or have the answer, but our clients do, and we help them discover the answer.
I have had numerous “aha” moments watching my clients learn to use conflict to their advantage to escort the elephants out of the building. Entering the danger is always done with great respect, never accusatory, and always designed to help every team member become his or her best.
Some teams struggle to encourage open and honest conversations without an outside facilitator because their team members are emotionally attached to issues, or have other fears holding them back. However, if you commit to being open and honest with each other, and hold each other (and yourself) accountable to "just saying it", your healthy conflict will increase trust and help your team produce better results.