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How to Properly Confront Others as a Leader
Sean: Hey, guys! Welcome back to the channel. This is your host, Sean Si a.k.a. Mr. CEO at 22. And for today, we’re going to be discussing how to properly confront others as a leader.
When you’re a leader, you know that there are times you have to confront a colleague, maybe a higher up, maybe someone who is working for you. You have to tell them what you expect. You have to tell them of maybe certain behavior that shouldn’t have been done, certain work was done in such a way that damages the company’s reputation, or certain work was not done.
And you have to communicate with this person and how that is not going to happen again, on how to improve things, on what you can expect from them moving on. So there are a lot of ways to confront it. But let’s talk about things that you should never do first when you confront a colleague or a coworker.
Number one, never, ever abdicate the responsibility. What does this mean? It means that you imagined the problem is just going to go away without doing anything, without even confronting the person. You just tell the person you know, that’s just wrong. Don’t do that again. That’s not going to solve the problem.
Or you tell HR, “Hey, you know, this colleague of mine, this is what happened. And please make sure that never happens again.” That’s abdicating your responsibility because you’re telling HR, “Hey, I’m passing this responsibility to you. Even if you have no personal or working relationship with this person as deep as I have, you fix it.”
Or what’s worse is you just ignore the problem, imagine it goes away and imagine things would be better for somebody. That’s abdicating the responsibility of confrontation, which is not good, that tells other people that you’re not really leading that other person. You’re not really acting as a leader because a real leader would take the responsibility and the time and the effort to go to the person and confront them.
Second way not to confront is you confront emotions high. So if the mistake is fresh, if your emotions are still stirred, do not go to the person, because chances are you’re going to say things out of anger. When you see things out of anger, things always sound at least 8 to 10 times worse than they should. And when things sound worse than they should, the receiving party will close their hearts and minds towards you.
And at the end of the day, you just wasted your time because nothing is solved. There’s going to be no resolution out of all the things that you said. Always avoid speaking out of anger. Always avoid confronting in anger. When you’re angry, let the day pass. Pray about it. Surrender it to God. Cool off.
And then just schedule a confrontation the day after, two days after, maybe even a week after, but not months after. Because that’s already going back to our point number one, which is abdicating your responsibility. Make sure you confront.
Third, the wrong way on how not to confront others is you’re too relationally concerned, meaning you’re more concerned about your relationship with the person, whether it’s personal or it’s work. You don’t want to damage the relationship. You don’t want to put even a small, tiny dent on the relationship.
So what happens is you tell the person, “Hey, I need to talk with you.” And then you go ahead and talk with that person and ask, “Oh, what did you do on the weekend? Oh yeah, you ate there or you had a good time, I also ate there. You know, there was this time when I did this and that.”
And you go ahead and tell stories after story after story, and you never put the issue on the table because you thought that’s already confronting them by building even more relationships with them. That is insanity. That is being delusional.
You talking with them about other things apart from the original concern is not going to make them better. When you confront someone, you can start with something soft, sure, but always put the matter at hand on the table. Always bring it up and bring it up as clearly as you can. Don’t beat around the bush, just spell it out for them.
This is what you did. I don’t appreciate that. What can we do to make sure that doesn’t happen again and you will perform better? I’m willing to help. I’m here to help you. In fact, the reason why I’m talking with you is because I want you to improve. You have to make sure the matter at hand is always at the table within the conversation.
Fourth mistake in confrontation. When you go blunt. So you’re not angry, emotions are not high, tensions are not high, but maybe you don’t like this person too much. Maybe you don’t have a deep relationship with this person. And then you go to that meeting, you sit down and you go straight to the point, and you do it without any tact or swab. You’re like, this is what you did. I don’t like it. You got to improve, right?
So when you start with that, the person goes on the defensive. What’s worse is if the person feels hurt, they will close their hearts and minds against you and there would be no resolution. Your words will ring on empty ears and it’s not going to sink in.
Chances are the mistakes are going to happen again at some point in the future, maybe in some other way. But it’s still going to happen because they’re not going to be listening to you. In fact, what’s most probably going to happen is they’re going to abhor you, have a distaste for you.
And you’re opening up, just like when you confront in anger, you’re opening yourself up to gossip, to toxicity, because people will not want to talk with you anymore. They’re going to be talking about you, not with you. And that’s always not good for you as the leader.
So this is why it’s so important for us to know how to confront properly. Now, what is the best way to confront other people? The best way is first and foremost, you schedule the meeting. Tell the person, “Hey, I want to have a one on one conversation with you.”
Maybe you can open up the meeting with a one on one meeting with the three W’s. What are your wins for this week? And then they proceed to share that with you. Secondly, what are things that you’re worried about? And then lastly, what are things that you’re wondering about that we can do that we can improve?
So that’s a good way to open up the meeting. And then right after that you tell them things that you appreciate about them. “Hey, you know that win that you shared with me earlier. That’s really good. If more people here do that, I think we’re going to be in a much better place as an organization.”
So you appreciate the person. This is really the sandwich method, right? So you say something good about the person, something you appreciate so that they’re more open to receiving your feedback. And then you make sure to spell out the matter at hand right after that.
“Hey, you know what? I know this is what happened in this client or in this account, and I want to help you with that. What you did was wrong. That’s something that I hope you will never do again. In order for you to avoid doing that, this is what we’re going to do. What do you think about that? Do you think that’s going to work? Do you think you can follow this method? Do you think there can be a process for that so that you will not have to do that again, so that you’re not going to make the same mistake again?”
At the end of it, encourage them by saying, “Hey, thank you so much for being open to my feedback. I really appreciate it that you listen to me and that you’re committed to improve from here on out. In fact, I know that you’re going to be improving because I see it in your eyes.” You end with that kind of encouragement and I assure you that confrontation is as successful as it’s going to get.
And lastly, when you close the meeting, make sure you’re so clear in your expectations. You tell them that, “Okay, so from here on out can I expect that this is going to be the result? Can I expect that you will always follow this certain procedure in order to be able to achieve this result? Can I expect that you’re going to be learning from this and evaluating the mistake, and that you’re going to be teaching others what you learned also, so that they will be able to avoid that mistake?
Be very clear on what you expect from them. If you’re not clear, you might as well throw that entire confrontation out the window. And confronting others is always uncomfortable on both ends- on the one being confronted and from the confronting party. Make every confrontation count. Be crystal clear on your expectations before you end the meeting.
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