I recently led a Focus Day session with a new client. They had heard incorrectly that some of the exercises in EOS caused conflict. You should have seen the looks on their faces as they entered the room and we met for the first time. I could have been able to play into this team's fear by having a microphone descend from the ceiling and speaking in a low, rolling voice...
"Let's get ready to RUMBLE!"
Our session ended not having had conflict or all out war, but instead it ended having had one of the most healthy conversations this team had experienced in many years. The leader, admittedly afraid of conflict, left with a new found admiration for having opened the proverbial can of worms.
Why? Instead of shouting and discomfort, the openness and honesty produced something unexpected. Respect. That respect bred understanding which ultimately led to trust. Hmmm. Value from Vulnerability.
Why are we so afraid of conflict? This imperfect leader sure has failed in this area. Recently I was rewatching the HBO series Band of Brothers. Talk about conflict. The men of Easy Company faced more conflict in a few years than we could possibly consider in a lifetime. And these men had their lives on the line. The enemy was real. The resources were limited. There wasn't much space for ambiguity. Yet we struggle to talk to an underperforming employee while in the comfort of our own upper middle class lives. Why?
Do we not see a significant enough threat to demand a little bravery? Is it possible that we just haven't been trained to effectively deal with conflict like the well trained airborne troops of the 101st? I believe it's a bit of both. Deep down our fear of conflict has to do with both our view of the severity of the situation and our insecurity in our own ability to handle it. So what's the imperfect insight?
My fear of conflict has more to do with ME than the problem.
In this case the conflict centered on a partner with a new business venture that competed for his time and energy. That's a pretty severe issue when you consider that he was responsible for one of the major functions of the organization. Obviously the leader was also more than capable of handling the issue because ultimately it only took one question to get to the root of the problem. "Do you still want it?"
So let's be real. This is business, not war. But if it was, we would most likely address conflict head on. Our lives would depend on it. So 1st be thankful that it's not life and death. Be thankful for the men of Easy Company that gave the ultimate sacrifice so we could run the businesses that we do. Then assess the issue that you're afraid to deal with and determine it's real severity. Stand tall and pull the trigger. You may just create your own Band of Brothers who respect you for it.
A System to Safeguard us from our imperfections...
EOS focuses on both people and accountability. It's designed not to create conflict but resolve it.
Applicable EOS tools:
The EOS Proven Process (Process) - Let a trained Implementer help you introduce accountability in your organization.
Accountability Chart (video) (PDF) - Do you know the one set of eyeballs to look into when it's time to praise or question an area of responsibility?
Want help applying the practical tools above? Email me for a free phone consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 717.502.2084.