REACT LIKE A LEADER

As a leader, you might have to face difficult situations.


Whether you must find a collective solution to an issue, face an overreacting co-worker or handle difficult truth-telling conversations (share a negative feedback or deliver bad news), here are some tips to react appropriately.

Be a solution finder, not a problem solver


Problem solvers fix things that do not work (analyze the problem, fix it, ensure it is solved).


- Co-worker: “I can’t do this task for Monday, I just got too much on my plate right now!”

- Problem solver: “Well, ask Tim to do it, I think he is available.”

… Problem fixed (maybe not for Tim…)

Though it is nice to fix problems, if you find a quick fix to any issue, you become an expert in what’s wrong and you prevent people from becoming autonomous.

Solution finders focus on the objective, define and co-design possible solutions to achieve it, scale the most suitable solution and follow-up.


- Co-worker: “I can’t do this task for Monday, I just got too much on my plate right now!”

- Solution finder: “What was the objective of this task? What do you want to achieve?

- C-w: “I need to review customers’ feedback so that we can adapt the after-sales strategy.”

- Sf: “I think Suzan already made that kind of analysis. You can contact her to ask for details and organize a meeting with the 3 of us on Monday so that we define next steps. Would it be suitable for you?

The next level is encouraging your co-workers to come to you with objectives asking for ideas and not with problems asking for a quick fix!


Handle difficult truth-telling conversations


When you have something difficult to say to someone…

Be direct, factual and take responsibility

Even though it might seem harsh, always start a difficult conversation with ensuring everyone is on the same page.

"We are here because I want to express my concerns about…"

"The purpose of this meeting is to share the negative impacts of the crisis on our budget."

You are delivering this message because it is your duty to do so. Do not blame someone else: "I have been asked to tell you" and use the "I" instead of the we (so that it is easier to have a discussion).

Use facts not interpretations, avoid commonplaces and rumors.

Try "Our sales have been dropping by more than 10% since last February" instead of "I heard you are having a hard time…" and "I received two client's complaints last month" rather than "I have been told that some clients are unhappy with…"

Manage your emotions and acknowledge the impact on your interlocutor

Avoid unneeded apologies not to look guilty or uncertain. Instead of "I am sorry but I will have to…" use "I know it is hard to hear but I must share with you…"

Be empathetic and listen carefully. Even if you disagree, you can still understand how he/she feels.

Summarize and close

Ensure you and your interlocutor are on the same page “Are we aligned on next steps?"

If possible, finish on a positive note "I really appreciate your open-mindedness".


Resolve conflicts


If during a conversation your interlocutor overreacts and is no longer able to discuss in a constructive way, you must first unravel the conflict and step back from the objective.

I think we should set this subject aside for a minute. I see/I’m hearing that you are experiencing a hard time here.

Create a safe environment where it is ok to talk about a side subject, even if it is sensitive.

Do you want to share this concern with me? What can I do to help you?

Propose a collective solution to the conflict and suggest to go back to the previous conversation

I suggest we discuss it with… next week over a meeting… what do you think?

If we are fine about this matter, can we go back to …

Regardless of the matter, ensure the exchange remains respectful.

Clearly define and remind what can be accepted and what cannot. When a line is crossed, stop or postpone the conversation.





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