Conflict, compassion and commitments – the delicate dance of every leader

There’s a delicate dance that every leader must do.

While running a business or home, there are functional requirements. Things have to get done in order to make the whole thing work. But there’s a conflict that happens when we introduce people and their complexities into the mix.

If you run a mechanical business, cars need to be serviced, purchase orders written, and clients scheduled. This is a necessity of the business and what makes it viable. However, what happens when you have a staff member whose daughter just got diagnosed with an incurable disease? How do you keep the clients happy who now, wont get their car serviced this week?

On the home front, you know that shopping needs to be done, washing sorted, dinner prepared, and kids ferried to after school activities. But what happens when your son has an epic melt down on the way home and feels like everyone hates him. His response to the situation is beyond all reasonable proportions and it’s obvious nothing is going to get done while he’s discombobulating.

How can you be the compassionate, supportive and kind person you want to be AND still meet the functional demands of your work or home?

Let me say up front. I get it wrong every day. I want to be kinder, slower and more engaged with the people in my life, but the practical requirements often get in the way and trip me up.

Here are some things I try to focus on in the tricky moments.

  • Recognise the moment for what it is. A shit storm- in a teacup- being stirred by a monkey- on a unicycle. The universe couldn’t have written this stuff, but we have to accept the random challenges being slung at us, one day at a time. While my kids were little I lived by the mantra “There is only this moment, and it too shall pass” to remind me that life is constantly changing and I just need to hang on for the ride.
  • Slow it down a little. Most situations, both in the office and at home are not life threatening. While there are certainly practical requirements, realistically, no one’s going to die if they don’t get done. Getting a little distance and perspective can help us focus on what matters in the moment and help us to make the hard decisions. In five years, what part of this situation are you likely to remember?
  • Get OK with getting it wrong. We all want to be kind, helpful AND meet all our obligations. Realistically, these things are going to be in conflict because the world isn’t perfect and, I’m not sure about you, but I’m certainly not perfect either. Cut yourself some slack and let go of trying to keep everyone happy. You can’t… and that’s not you failing, that’s just life.
  • Where you can, put the relationship first. “But which relationship?” I hear you say. That’s hard to figure out, and I’m sorry I can’t make the decision for you. What I do know is that allowing your head to try work through it is only part of the answer. Sometimes sitting quietly and listening to your intuition can give you a clarity that your head could never see.
  • Ask yourself “What action will I regret the least?” While the reality of conflicting demands is never easy, this is something that could give you a quick answer. Are you likely to regret putting your staff or kids first? It’s worth pondering isn’t it.

I’m sorry there’s not a clear answer, but I hope it’s a little help in shifting your perspective and helps you make a positive decision for everyone involved.

When all else fails, you can always borrow my mantra “There’s only this moment, and it too shall pass.” Good luck.