Relationships are hard. Staff dynamics can be really tricky to navigate. Because coaching staffs are made up of people, there is one guarantee: there will be a point where relational or staff dynamics demand a hard conversation.
I find it pretty normal for leaders to avoid hard conversations. Often, they hint at issues, ignore or sweep under the rug, or just flat out refuse to run to the tension.
This is a failure of leadership.
Below are keys to remember when you need to have a hard conversation.
There is nothing that disintegrates relationships like pride. “Let me show you where you are wrong… without ever thinking that I might have played a role in things” is pride.
A lack of humility is often at the center of conflict and almost always prevents reconciliation or agreement.
Be clear and concise
When you address an issue, address it head-on. Don’t talk around things… don’t hem and ha. If the other person walks away not exactly sure of what the issue is, you have not been clear (and concise)
Ask questions to understand
First, seek to understand. When you ask a question, don’t ask to simply figure out your rebuttal or argument against the answer. Actually ask then listen to understand where they are coming from.
This is essentially empathy at play. Empathize with where they are coming from and how they are feeling.
Own what you need to own
This ties into pride. It is important to be open to the fact that you probably played a role in the conflict. It is helpful in all relationships to be willing and open to owning your junk.
Be for the other person
If you are approaching a hard conversation with a ‘gotcha’ mindset or if your goal is to ‘win’, it will not go well. Be for the other person. Fight for a win-win outcome.
Sooner rather than later
I save the most important for last. Big conflicts always have a small start. They start out as a small anthill… then weeks, months, or maybe even years later they are a massive mountain. Mountains are infinitely harder to climb than an anthill. Have the hard conversation today. If you are a leader, there is no way around hard conversations. Very few like them, and honestly, very few do them well. Be elite!
Elite leaders handle relational strife well.