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You Are Part of The Problem…And That’s OK!


In our work as consultants we are often called upon to help leaders and their organizations navigate conflict.

In virtually every instance the leader who enlists our help believes that he or she is not the problem. The real problem, those leaders believe, is “that person” or “those people” or “that policy or procedure” or “that department”.

We’ve seen a lot of jaws drop (and a few fists start to clench!) when we tell leaders “The problem is you!”.

Angry man pointing his finger

What we mean by that is that in every conflict, every individual involved has contributed to the impasse in some way or another. This is one of the fundamental rules of organizational life – that every member of the group is part of a system that is not working on some level.

Now, we want our clients to continue to employ us, so we finish the sentence beginning “The problem is you…” with an important clause: “…so know yourself.”

If I am aware of my limitations and failures and propensities to engage in unhealthy behavior at times then I can lead through the conflict with wisdom and skill.

The writer John Eldredge puts it this way: “What gets in the way is your way”. He means that we all have a way of relating, a manner of leading that we rarely question. And when you don’t question yourself you are not conscious of how your patterns of behavior are affecting others, creating resistance, and undermining the very goals you are committed to bringing about. But if you are willing to take an inward look, you can stop being your own worst enemy.

If you can manage yourself – know your heart and mind and understand how and why you can slip into unhealthy conflict – and then choose instead to put your ego aside for a bigger mission – you have the foundation for persevering through conflict and adversity in a way that bring about lasting change and a unified team and organization.

Do you want to take your team to the next level? Here are some of our options for team development and growth.

Ready to take your individual leadership acumen to a higher place? Check out our options for executive and leadership coaching here.

For more on navigating organizational and interpersonal conflict, read our book Red Zone/Blue Zone, which you can find here.