Don’t Be An Ostrich!

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 9.47.56 AM

A lot of people might say that any action is better than no action, but I have to disagree. As I wrote last week, the right action is whatever brings you closer to your objective. While I stand by that concept, it’s also important not to let yourself get stuck. When we’re afraid of making a mistake and taking the “wrong” action, it’s easy to bury our head in the sand and ignore important and significant challenges — or as we talked about last week, we might just do busy work instead of important work.
One of the challenges leaders often face is conflict. Despite being the “leader,” confrontation can be seriously nerve-wracking. But the ostrich approach of burying your head in the sand — hoping it will go away — is pragmatically the same as running away, even if you’re actually standing still. And when it comes to conflict, doing nothing can actually be more harmful than doing the wrong something, because people often interpret silence as agreement, acquiescence or permission. When faced with conflict, steal a page from the oldest military strategy on the books: Divide and conquer. First separate from the trigger of the conflict. If it’s a situation, move to a different room to get some distance or perspective. The same is true if two people are in conflict – give them space to separate. As a leader, recognize the impasse and then give yourself and others permission to cool off.
Instead of burying your head hoping it goes away, give yourself time to consider the triggers, the options and where the emotions are clouding the results. Ask yourself what you most need in order to handle the situation effectively. Be willing to ask for help (as long as you aren’t pawning the problem off on someone else so you you don’t have to deal with it) and then be courageous enough to take the course of action you know to be best. Trust your instinct. You’re the only one who can tell you which direction you’re going, so trust yourself and make sure that direction is forward.