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The Leader’s Most Difficult Task

The Leader’s Most Difficult Task

By: Ross Paterson

I attended a leadership conference this summer where Sheila Heen and her team did a fascinating presentation on Difficult Conversations. In the high-stakes world of business ownership, leadership, and life in general, these conversations are inevitable. Most of us are poorly trained in this critical leadership/human skill, so we approach the challenge in one of two ways:

  1. Head on Confrontation:The proverbial hand grenade approach. The result is a big mess with heavy collateral damage that requires lots of clean up and healing. The lasting scars may never completely heal.
  2. Avoidance:Perhaps a fear of conflict, lack of process, or any other excuse keeps us from engaging in the conversation. This approach is equally unhealthy, because we can seldom let go of the issue. The stress of unresolved conflict builds, we emotionally disengage from the person, and the organization’s performance declines.


All the time our clients spend developing the basic building blocks of leadership (vision, planning, delegation, accountability, etc.) can be completely undermined by a conflict poorly handled. Xtra Mile Leaders multiply their ability to influence by mastering the skills necessary to successfully navigate difficult conversations. Let us know if we can help you take your leadership and team to the next level in 2019.