It seems to be more natural to lean away from confrontation instead of leaning into it. It’s difficult, uncomfortable, messy, and the end result is never certain.
The word itself brings up negative images in my mind. Images of a drill instructor screaming into the face of a stoic recruit, spittle flying. Images of being backed into a corner with no way to escape. Images of the popular girl, trailed by her devotees, accusing another girl of smiling at her boyfriend – her superiority palpable.
The word confrontation can be defined as “an open conflict of opposing ideas or forces.” At first glance, it seems to me to be something that I should avoid as a leader.
But what if I approach confrontation knowing that it actually means care?
To be a great leader, I know I have to care about my team.
Take a moment to think about it – do you typically confront people when you’re not passionate about the subject? Probably not. We tend to use confrontation when we deeply care about either the person or the subject.
Choose to confront someone you lead because you care so much about them that you don’t want them to stay the way they are.
Will you still dread the confrontation? Possibly.
That’s ok – it shows that you may care more about the person than about being right.
If you don’t care, you’ll never confront people.
I know I just offended some of you. You’re protesting in your mind, insisting that you do care for your team. You just hate confrontation. You hate the possibility of hurting the other person. You hate conflict and the unknown outcomes.
But how much do you really care about your team if you’re not willing to help them grow into better people?
Do you want your team to grow? You may need to confront an issue that is holding your team back from reaching its full potential.
Or do you want your team to continue down their current path? Then, by all means, don’t confront them. Leave them alone to self destruct or maintain mediocrity.
But if you do care, choose to do the difficult thing.
Lovingly, kindly, at the right time and in the right setting, confront them.
How they react is not up to you. Let them know they are too important to you to let this go.
Show them that confrontation means you care.