It is awareness, not knowledge, that is the secret to success.
-Christian Simpson, John Maxwell Team
A leader who is highly skilled in conflict management has respect at their very core. Respect is not earned to a truly great leader; it is a product from within. The very fact that there is life within demands respect, a great leader knows and believes. This causes the humanity, the ideas, thoughts and dreams of those they lead, to be of great care and concern. This awareness separates good leaders from truly great leaders. A good leader may be willing to listen and value those they lead when conflict is low and demands are within limits. However, in the midst of conflict they become confused because they lack awareness, and will falter and lose their grip. Lacking awareness and the ability to proceed from within causes the good leader to lash out and thrash to get their bearings. They will fight with their people, instead of arguing over the need conflict has identified. The trust and confidence this unaware leader has with their team becomes tenuous; actions and motives becoming suspect. During times of competing needs, the unaware leader fails to proceed with care and concern. They become emotional and reactive instead of responding to need by seeking to understand first. They will jump to conclusions and immediately take a protective posture and appear fearful and suspicious.
A leader possessing an area of expertise and relationships is aware. Moving from good to great takes awareness. Awareness of our humanity. Awareness of what makes us uniquely human and the bond we all share. Respect will hold the relationship with those we lead in place even when the ground beneath appears to shake. It is not the water around a ship that will sink it; it is when water gets into the ship that it sinks. What is more, a great leader will take actions to separate from every member of the team unable to work within the construct of respect. Poor performance and inability to meet standards at a collective level are easy decisions for a respectful leader to make. No fight and no confusion. “We counted on you. You have let yourself down and you have let this team down.” This is the conversation that takes place at the exit interview of a team member unable to respect themselves and those they work with.
This is commitment and this is the demand placed on leadership. Awareness, respect for others, and a deep desire to seek to understand are critical skills and identifiable behavior of a great leader. These leaders will grow up a team and an organization by their deep respect for those they lead. These leaders are trusted and establish themselves by their ability to solve problems -The Winning Way™
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