Be hard on the issues

Some years back I read “Getting to Yes” by Fisher and Ury at the recommendation of a personal mentor of mine. The leadership team at my previous organization read through the book together and held weekly discussions on each chapter.

This was a worthwhile read and some interesting team discussions ensued. One key concept is forever embedded in my brain. Ury and Fisher talked about being “hard on the issues and soft on the people”. I long ago lost count of how many times I have relied on that axiom to help me with difficult conversations with staff as well as my family.

Leadership takes a special kind of love. Love for your organization and love for your team. Anyone in leadership, if we are completely honest with ourselves, has felt like berating someone for an incident or a poor outcome, slamming our fist on the desk, or chewing someone up one side and down the other. I have been there as well! While blowing off steam may feel better in the short term, this is probably not (in my humble opinion) the best way to achieve a behavioral change.

Before I counsel, how to be “hard on the issue and soft on the people” always crosses my mind. I care deeply about my colleagues and I want them to know that while I need to point out a problem or poor performance that this does not change how I feel about them.

I want the same from those I report to. If I have screwed up, I want you to let me know where I failed or could do better and I’ll work that much harder as long as I know you haven’t given up on me.

To my little group of blog followers, I thank you. I hope these writings will strike a chord with you and inspire you in some small way to make a difference with just one other person.

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