3 Things To Do When Leading in Conflict

It had been a cold Sunday morning. After our church service, we trooped to our favorite coffee shop for our regular Sunday breakfast. Our kids played after they’d stuffed their bellies while my wife and I had some time to ourselves and discussed some ideas for our business.

As we were driving home, excited about the prospect of those ideas, my wife interjected. “Why don’t we pick up some vegetables and fruits at the green grocer’s?” She asked. However, I was looking forward to heading straight home and get started on building our future.

“What harm does delaying it for an hour make,” I thought to myself. And off we went.

Into the basket went juicy tangerines, crunchy carrots and healthy-green broccoli. Then, a commotion and raised voices stopped us in our tracks! A man in a well-cut suit was in a heated argument with one of the shops attendants. Some of the shoppers and shop attendants suddenly went into an animated suspension. Other busied themselves in selecting their produce while behaving like nothing was happening.

As I bent over to pick up some potatoes, six words made me shoot upright like the crack of a rifle. “I’ll send you to the cold room!” roared Mr. Suit. He had just voiced his intent to cause grievous bodily harm to the shop attendant.

We were shocked, the kids were confused and some people just about bolted out of the shop. My disappointment was the fact that the majority of the shoppers continued with what they were doing like nothing had happened.

If you want to lead, here are some pointer of things you need to constantly practice.

Respect is given… If I was to accidentally have the opportunity to work with Mr. Suit, I would immediately turn back and run for the hills. Why? I have no respect for anyone who would blatantly threaten another person with death! He wasn’t in control of himself; his emotions took over and he seriously tripped all over his thought-process! It doesn’t matter how wealthy you are or how high you may be on the corporate or political machinery. You can never force people to respect you.

Lesson: Watch your tongue, you can slip all over it and hurt yourself real nasty!

Be aware of your surroundings. This is a critical and very important skill for anyone hoping to have any positive and lasting influence. If you desire to have authentic followers, you have to prove yourself worth following in the first place. “Daddy, why is the man shouting?” This was the perplexed question from our 8-year old daughter. Use right language, chose your channel and watch your attitude.

Lesson: Others are closely watching your every move. Make it count!

Mediate when conflict arises. I get very hot under the collar especially when someone is taken advantage of. It just gets my blood boiling. However, I have learned how important it is to compose myself when such instances do arise. As Mr. Suit’s rage was about to hit its boiling point, I walked over and reasoned with him. After nearly ten minutes, he cooled down and finally walked out of the shop.

Lesson: Every opportunity that comes your way is an avenue to take leadership.

As we were walking out of the shopping mall, I was astounded to see Mr. Suit and the shop attendant talking in hushed tones. From their body language, it occurred to me that they were trying to find a resolution to the earlier altercation.

What if I hadn’t stepped in? What would have happened? A week later, the store owner answered these questions for me. “Thank you for helping with the nasty situation last week, “ she said. “You saved the day.”

It felt great to be of service. But the most treasured outcome was to show my kids what true leadership is. It is stepping into a space that others are uncomfortable to venture into. It is rising above mediocrity and self-interest.

Question: How do you lead when you are encountered by conflict? You can leave your comment by clicking here.

Certified Professional Coach, Communication Specialist & Author

I help motivated but overwhelmed individuals and organizations regain their purpose to lead so they can focus on what matters most to build a transformational legacy.