Tag Archive: conflict resolution

When A Leader Should Confront

Business dispute

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One of the most important decisions a leader makes is when to confront someone they lead.

Confrontation is not a bad word. From its Latin origin, it means to turn your face towards. (What is bad is to say confrontational things, in the form of an email or to a third person when you’re not “facing them.) Confronting is an inevitable part of leadership. It’s part of keeping your church on mission. It’s part of developing others.

I’ve written previously on “saying the last 2%” once you’re in a confrontational or developmental conversation. But regardless of whether you’re saying 98% or the last 2%, you first need to determine if you should say anything at all. In other words, is the issue even confront-worthy?

So before you send that email to schedule a meeting, or catch someone in the hallway and ask them to step in your office…

Count the Cost

Ken Sande, author of The Peace Maker reminds us…

“We need to make a conscious effort to count the costs of a conflict at the outset of a dispute and compare them to the benefits of quickly settling the matter (via over-looking).”

Proverbs 19:11 tells us that “it’s to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

You need to perform a cost/benefit analysis. Here are some questions you can ask yourself, to determine if an issue is worth confronting:

  • Does this issue, unchecked, have the ability to cause harm to others or the church?
  • Will this issue get really annoying to you or others if repeated or perpetuated?
  • Is it sinful or anti-staff values?
  • Do you have a specific issue to address, or do you have a general dislike of this person or their attitude?
  • Was this a one-time offense, or is it likely to happen again?

These questions will help uncover your motives and ensure that your issue is in fact, an issue, and not simply a temporary annoyance.

Another way to ensure better confrontation is to think gray. That is, give the issue some space before setting up the confrontation. While I loathe the leadership methodology that waits for the annual review to unload all of someone’s short comings, waiting one to three days will help focus the confrontation.

One other thing that Ken Sande suggests:

“Ask the humanizing question. The humanizing question looks at an infraction and uses not only a situational view of the person who committed infraction, but also a dispositional view. When we feel we are wronged, we often ask, ‘What’s the matter with that person?’ instead of, ‘Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person do that?’

Practical takeaways for everyday church leadership:

  • Before rushing to confront, count the cost
  • Perform a cost/benefit analysis
  • Pray for wisdom
  • Ask the humanizing question



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Avoiding Amygdala Hijacks That Derail Your Ministry

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“You’re an idiot. I think I’ll quit and see how you manage without me! You pastors have no idea what it’s like to do day-to-day ministry and not just preach on Sundays! And while I’m at it, none of the staff likes you or your wife!”

That kind of comment is what the brain’s amygdala is supposed to keep you from saying. The amygdala is the brain’s veto center.

In Daniel Goleman’s book Primal Leadership, one specific concept really struck a chord with me… the amygdala highjack. It’s when our brain’s veto center doesn’t act in time. We respond quickly, crudely, and in anger. This  often leads to the feeling of instant regret. It can also lead to the loss of a job or relationship.

A Christian and specifically a leader of Christians can’t afford too many hijacks. One poorly timed amygdala hijack can undo a lifetime of service.

Our primary defense to the highjack is the Holy Spirit’s control. An additional combatant is development of our emotional intelligence. I’ll never have a high IQ, but my emotional quotient (EQ or EI) has increased over time. It’s still way below emotional genius, but with the Spirit’s help and some intentional practice, it’s improved.

How high is your EQ? How high would your staff say your EQ is?

If you can learn the discipline of emotional intelligence, you can avoid most amygdala highjacks.  And avoiding hijacks exponentially increases your chances of keeping your current job and relationships. Emotional intelligence also allows you to better connect relationally with others.

Developing the fruit listed in Galatians 5 (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control) will lead to Christ-likeness and high emotional intelligence.

Your EI needs to be high enough so your first reaction stressful situation is not a high-jacked stress reaction.

No matter your vocation, each day we’re faced with situations that can lead to an amygdala hijack. Whether or not you allow for these situations to be high-jacked is a matter of Spiritual and pragmatic discipline.

Practical takeaways:

  1. Begin assessing the Fruit of the Spirit in your life. Celebrate what God has developed in you, and work on areas that are lacking.
  2. Read Goleman’s book.
  3. Get feedback from others about your EQ, and what they’ve noticed are triggers for your hijack occurrences.

These sound like good 2014 self-development goals.

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