I recently made a leadership decision that was fraught with some amount of peril. Most good leadership decisions are. If you’re not risking, you’re probably not leading as aggressively as you should. 

I was contacted by someone who expressed genuine concern about the decision I had made. I was so impressed by them and their attitude, I decided to share it with you.

Here’s what they did right:

1. They contacted me privately. They did not confront me publicly, setting up a situation where I felt I had to prove my point or lose face. They did not rant on Facebook.

2. They communicated their appreciation for my leadership. Honest appreciation is the oil that greases the gears of life and relationships, my friends. Use more of it.

3. They assumed they might not have all the information I had. Usually, people assume that the leader doesn’t have all the information they have and therefore the leader’s decision was a bad one. (And that could be the case!)  But it is safer and far more gracious to assume that it is the leader who has more information.

This one little tweak raises you near a Level Ninja Conflict Manager. If you don’t have this perspective, you won’t be able to listen. You’ll come in fighting to be heard, not to listen.

4. They communicated their concern about the situation. I never mind when someone shares a concern. As C.S. Lewis says in the Chronicles of Narnia, “If there is a wasp in the room, I should like to know where it is.” I’d rather know ahead of time if someone has concerns.

5. They recognized my authority in the situation. I’m not “that guy” who needs the props, or just needs someone to notice I’m in charge. But admit it: when your kids are respectful of your authority in your family, it takes the temperature down in the discussion. Same way here.

6. They affirmed their willingness to trust and follow my leadership, even if I didn’t agree with them. This was huge. I almost felt like crying. As a leader in several organizations, I was overwhelmed that day, and carrying another person’s frustrations was not what I needed.

When dealing with a leader who has a good heart, trusting that leader even when you disagree doesn’t make that leader more likely to be an idiot – it makes them more serious about their leadership!

What happened inside me at that moment was fascinating:

  • I was more willing to hear their perspective.
  • I was more challenged to lead carefully.
  • I was more energized to lead well.
  • I was more thankful to have them around.
  • I was more likely to seek out their counsel next time.
  • I was more impressed with their readiness to lead on a higher level.

I’m confident this is what happens in all leaders who have a sincere and good heart for the people they lead and love.