Businessman Standing on Plank With Sharks

There are so many books, tapes, seminars; TV documentaries….even “youtube” providing various ways of managing through difficult times as a leader. Having been in a leadership role (specifically sales leadership) for over 17 years it’s definitely not a picnic having to wade through personnel conflicts, business conflicts, economy issues etc…especially where there are human beings involved. We as human beings are interesting creatures especially as it relates to conflict/adversity and how we behave or react to these two aspects of life determines our success overcoming them. As a leader how you react to adversity based on poise is PARAMOUNT, as matter of fact, it should not only be a job requirement but a measurement of competency and one’s ability to do the job. How many end of the year job reviews have you had where you were evaluated on how you dealt with conflict/adversity during the year? I’m betting not many. Often times just the very mention of the words “Conflict” & “Adversity” elicits a negative reaction and not an angle for positive development and growth.

I’ve often said that Leadership is a kin to parenting and this is not to say your employees are children or for that matter your children, but, how you react to adversity as a leader is observed by your impressionable employees….analogous to a child observing mom and dad having an argument.  To be clear I’m not advocating a “Robot” type affect when experiencing conflict/adversity we’re all human beings that have emotion and passion, however, our behaviors do mold our ability to lead AND how your employees view your leadership. Have you ever heard of the saying “Leading By Example”? It definitely applies here and if you don’t think your employees are evaluating or expecting your strength during the difficult times you’re sadly mistaken….or NOT paying attention. I would be remiss in this article if I did not provide some tactical ways of addressing conflict/adversity as a leader, these are real life tactics I’ve learned over the years:  

    • Don’t overreact even if the situation is severe our worst decisions on conflicts happen when the mind doesn’t have time to unscramble…seems simple but many do not heed.
    • What does the “Vision/Credo” tell you? I’m amazed at how many decisions are made on issues without the inclusion of the company’s vision or credo…why do you have a vision or credo if you don’t let it lead your way.
    • Determine what’s best for the business, many decisions are made on emotion which is part of our human DNA, however separating emotion from practicality can lead to the best available plan towards the crisis.
    • Always place people first! This may seem contradictory to my 3rd bullet point, but your business decisions have to be in the best interest of your people.
  • Ask for help!! This is the most controversial because many leaders have placed themselves on the steps of Hubris where their decision and their decision only is golden because of their position. I submit that Humility is the strongest form of Leadership because it helps to empower others. Ask for help!!!
  • Lastly, my favorite is finding time to rigorously exercise before tackling the conflict/adversity (again if the time is available), endorphins provide “smart injections” inside the body. My best decisions on serious issues were made after a great workout. 

My last piece of advice on this subject is NOT to avoid conflict. In my earlier comment addressing conflict/adversity should be an important competency a leader should be evaluated on…avoiding conflict not only inflames the conflict but importantly you may lose your employees because of your lack of leadership during a conflict or crisis.

“POISED LEADERSHIP”….when sharks are surrounding you!

Andre’ Harrell

AH2 & Beyond Consulting


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