The Three “A’s” for Dealing with Conflict

Attacking. Abdicating. Accountability. 

When dealing with conflict there are only three ways in which you, or your reports, can respond. These are attacking, abdicating and being accountable.

  • Attacking – this is the first part of the “fight or flight” syndrome which we experience when we come across an uncomfortable situation. For example, we are in a meeting where someone has a differing opinion or idea.  We respond by becoming verbally violent and adopt an aggressive behavioral style.  Although this is a form of attack it is, in its essence, a defensive mechanism.  Hear our emotions control us, our ability to think objectively, to listen, to be creative and to consider alternatives is greatly reduced. This not only can lead to sub-optimal decisions, but we can alienate people and jeopardize relationships.
  • Abdicating – this is the “flight” aspect of the “fight or flight” syndrome.  Here we either withdraw from the discussion – this can be physical, mentally or emotionally – and we go to silence.  We don’t add our input or perspective to the general discussion and the collective pool of meaning and insights that the group can draw on is reduced.  Typically you will see passive-aggressive behavior being exhibited, where people only pay lip-service to what has been discussed or even actively sabotages what has been agreed in the meeting. Again, these results in sub-optimal decisions and the individual(s) who abdicate responsibility for the work or making a contribution will effectively undermine the team and his or her relationships with them.
  • Accountability – here the individual stands up and takes ownership of what is happening and the results and implications. To do this you must be open and willing to learn from others and to adapt a better solution no matter where it comes from. Accountability is about engaging yourself and others in a common purpose to achieve shared goals and outcomes. It requires you to let go of ego and to communicate and share ideas and insights, to collaborate, and to learn from each other.

There are only three responses available to you and your team – attack, abdicate or be accountable.  Most people know the first two and ignore the implications, but fail to adopt accountability as the default in order to realize the benefits.  Consider all the situations you are dealing with, at work and home, and ask yourself this: “What response I am currently adopting for this situation, and what response will provide the greatest benefits?  What three actions do I need to take to bridge the gap?” Ask yourself this, and then ask your team. Just exposing the third option of accountability will help people change how they respond to situations.

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Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

3 Tips for Being an Effective Leader

Here are three tips to help you succeed.

  1. Understand what your customers REALLY want going ahead

When planning for how you will evolve your products and services start by sitting down with your best customers and asking them these two questions:

  • “What are the key challenges (good and bad) you will face in the next 12 months?”
  • “If you had a magic want and no limitations, what could we do differently to improve our service to you in the next 12 months?”

The key to discovering the REAL opportunities for your business is to hear their challenges / ideas and translate that into how you can help. What can you add to your service offering that can help them? Sounds simple and it is! Why not grab a lunch or coffee with your top 5 customers prior to year’s end and ask each of them the above questions, you have nothing to lose.

2. Boost your accountability levels
A critical element to strategy implementation is accountability. Great strategies are developed during a planning weekend (or day), and include one page plans for implementation. However when there is no accountability loop, even after all that great work, you tent to find after 1-2 months things have ground to a halt as day-to-day issues get in the way. Building in as a ‘habit’ a two-week accountability loop with key team members for key strategies will ensure it happens as barriers can be discussed and addressed quickly. Making these accountability meetings short and sharp (maximum 30 minutes) every 2 weeks will ensure only strategic issues are discussed and addressed. If you operate by yourself find a coach or a peer you trust and use them for your accountability loop, you will notice the difference quickly.

3. Focus on the outcomes, not the inputs
To ensure that you are not only delivering but exceeding your customers’ expectations, ensure that you know and understand what the outcomes are that they are looking to realise from engaging with you.  Customers are not interested in what you do, rather they are interested in what you help them achieve.  They want results, not deliverables (although deliverables may form part of the output, it is not the reason in itself).  To ensure that you are working on those things that are of importance to the customer make sure you know the outcomes they are looking for, the metrics which you will use to ascertain progress, and what it means to them if they realise the desired outcomes.

What has worked or not worked for you? Share your knowledge, share the wealth!

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Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.