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Leaders Need to Pick Their Battles

Leaders Need to Pick Their Battles

According to many of today’s leaders, there really isn’t much difference between leading adults in a professional environment and kindergarten children. From oil company executives to hospital administrators, just about everyone I have spoke with agrees on this statement, especially when it comes to behavior and personality conflicts. If you too share their belief, you’re bound to change your mind soon enough. There is a strategy that will allow you to maintain your sanity, keep your team together and prevent you from looking like the bad guy: Pick Your Battles.

Prioritize Your Battles

Now this doesn’t mean that you should create battles to pick from. Instead, when they arise you need to become selective of which ones you’ll address instantly, deal with later, or let go of it altogether. In short, you need to prioritize your battles just as you do with goals.

This brings us to another aspect: How do you know what issues to address when there are multiple challenges or conflicts?

Naturally, you’d want to address concerns that have a detrimental effect on your team or organization first. But many of the day-to-day conflicts we face are not huge, blow-up-the team type of issues. In fact, many are just the opposite. Take for instance the annoying behavior of certain team members; this is a small issue which can build up over time, affecting the team’s performance or its members’ respect for each other.


© Shawn Stratton

Tune Out

So how do you pick your battles? To help you find the best answer and determine a course of action, keep in mind that picking your battles means that there are multiple concerns which demand your attention. Now addressing all the issues at once would most likely cause the person to tune you out, resulting in no change at all. Take the example of that one person who is always a little late to meetings. He or she may hand in high quality reports, but these will reach your desk past the desired deadline. You’ll need to address that first before moving on to the complaints made because he or she plays music loudly from their cubicle, distracting everyone around him.

Feedback Ratio

If you still have a rough time determining which battle to pick first, keep Marcial Losada’s critical positivity ration in mind. According to it, you need to keep your positive to constructive feedback ratio to a minimum of 3 positives to 1 constructive. Ideally, you should strive for 6:1, but I’ll discuss that in a future blog. For other tips, you may want to check out my blog post titled The Ultimate Feedback Techniques of Today’s Leaders.

So tell us: have you picked your battles and won? Share through the comments how you have dealt with multiple behavioral challenges with a person or team and inspire others.