When I was invited to share my feeling on this months newsletter topic of Leadership and Conflict, I was tempted to keep it very simple and to the point and that was to say the answer to staying in your leadership when experiencing conflict, is to be present. It is the simple answer and the only way in which you can be powerful in your leadership and stay true to yourself and at the same time support and guide others to evolve and grow in their own personal leadership.
Simple? yes, easy? not always! When you are in a position that requires you to ignite or encourage conflict, it requires you to be very clear and grounded in who you really are, which is OK, valuable, worthy of love and perfect just as you are, right here and now. WHAAAAAAT?! I hear you cry! Yes thats the truth of who you are , even though you may not feel like it all the time. And the kicker is, so is the other person who is part of the conflict! This is a vital distinction to get when becoming more and more courageous in your leadership. Who you truly are and what you DO are different. We have created a world where we mix those two up and make judgements about ourselves and others by linking our actions to the value and worth of us as human beings. In other words, we take things personally and that leads to confrontation, defending our position and attack or shrinking away from opportunity. (The good old fight or flight response.)
The breaking of the habit of taking things personally needs consistency and discipline around reminding ourselves of who we truly are and the only place where we can find that truth is in the present moment. Its where you will have whatever wisdom, words, actions necessary to respond constructively. This is what I call developing your emotional resilience through being present and in that we grow our capacity to manage and engage with conflict, in the moment wherever it arises.
When you are fully present and taking full personal responsibility for the way you are turning up and choosing to be, then you will be courageously leading the way for others in your company to do so. Try it out and see. If you are somehow waiting for someone around you to change, step up or be different in any way to how they are turning up, (and perhaps this is what is causing the conflict in the first place), YOUturn up differently FIRST. Be consistent and authentic in that space and watch what happens. Either the conflict will shift and no longer be an issue – the conflict details will be the same but you will have a whole new creative way of looking at it which will lead to it no longer causing you an issue – or the person with whom you have the conflict will simply leave.
So as an overview for simplicity:
- Be present – be in the here and now no matter what conflict is there.
- Don’t take things personally! STOP as soon as you realise you are because it will activate your fight or flight response which is fear-based and leads to more unnecessary conflict.
- Remember that who you are is OK, valuable, worthy of love and perfect just as you are, right here and now, regardless of how you may feel or think about that.
- Your behaviours, or what you do can be a bit dubious from time to time but its still not WHO YOU ARE. It’s important that we remember that we are only ever doing the best that we are able to do with the awareness that we have in that moment. And that goes for the the other or others too! Being present means you will be more aware and able to choose effectively.
- Take responsibility for who you are BEing and as Mahatma Gandhi was rumoured to have said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”