Top Leadership Articles of 2022 Inspired By Next Element Clients
Many of my blog posts are inspired by interactions with our clients. Sometimes it comes from insightful questions they ask, or epiphanies share with us. Sometimes it comes out of our shared struggle to find better solutions or an easier way to understand something. I’m so grateful for these experiences and want to share a few special articles inspired by interactions with our amazing clients.
Healthcare is a challenging place to be right now. We had the privilege of spending much of 2022 working with leaders at large regional healthcare system to build a more compassionate and resilience culture on the heels of pandemic. During this process we had many important discussions around difficult conversations, difficult decisions, and how leaders navigate these challenges with compassionate accountability. In one of our group coaching sessions during the thick of budgeting season, we explored the dynamics of leading through change. The conversations were so rich, and the group was able to share their struggles and insights around how best to support their organization down this path. This article materialized to give voice to the struggle shared by all organizations going through change, and offer guidance for the journey.
Few things are more draining to a manager or HR than employees who complain about conflicts with their peers and expect you to solve the problem. It’s easy to get caught in several traps. One trap is to get involved in ways that put out the fire, but don’t help build capacity in the long run. This just creates a revolving door. Another trap is to kick your employees back out on the street and expect them to figure it out themselves. This creates resentment and doesn’t teach them the skills for how to handle difficult situations better. There’s got to be a better way. This post summarizes the perspectives and tools we teach managers on how to turn these situations into win-win outcomes.
I want to dedicate this post to a very special HR director who took these things to heart. Jason Runnals was the HR director for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Kansas. Jason created a wall-sized version of our Drama Triangle and Compassion Cycle models that he hung in his office. Whenever employees would come in with a concern, he used this model to guide the conversation. He would start by helping them assess “where they were” in the situation, and then coach them toward “where do we go from here with compassion?” He affectionally described this as, “They come into my office being part of the problem, and they leave being part of the solution.” This was his go-to approach and it worked. Jason was part of an amazing cultural transformation that helped BBBS become one of the most admired nonprofit agencies in the region, and a beacon for BBBS nationwide. Jason passed away several years ago from cancer, and I will always remember him as one of the most conscientious practitioners of Compassionate Accountability I’ve ever known.
Trust is probably the number one issue that leaders talk about. They want more of it. But how? Conversations around trust can be complicated.
What role does conflict play in building trust? This is perhaps the most important question of all. Most people we work with avoid conflict if they don’t trust someone. Sometimes they avoid conflict even if they do trust someone because they worry it could ruin things. Some people would love to have more productive conflict but they assume it’s not possible until trust is built within a team or relationship.
So, I wrote this article about how trust and conflict are connected. It might not be what you expect, but it’s supported by our research and experience with hundreds of leaders and their teams.
Thanks to all our clients for continually teaching us, challenging us, and struggling with us.