Trade Show TalesBlog

Dealing with Conflict. Are You an Elephant?: Word on the Street — August 11th thru August 15th

August 15th, 2014 2 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Is there an elephant in your office? If you don’t see one, it might be YOU!

An observation was recently shared with me. The context was leadership and dealing with conflict, and how leaders handle or don’t handle conflict in the workplace. The speaker said,  “Show me the leader that doesn’t confront conflict, and I’ll show you the biggest elephant in the room.”

And I have to admit, it made me think about my leadership skills and the leadership skills of those I admire. Handling conflict is a skill that I am still learning.

I am reminded of a situation that I knew was going to be ugly, because (sadly) it had gone unaddressed for a while. At the time, a friend said to me, “Your unwillingness to address this issue has not only allowed the issue to continue and negatively affect other employees Kevin, but it has cast a negative light on your leadership in the eyes of your employees.”

What I was not seeing was that other employees were looking at the same issue from a totally different perspective. They viewed me as a leader in the company, but as a leader who did nothing to curb/address/stop an issue that was impacting their daily work lives. Therefore, I clearly was not much of a leader.

It smacked me right it the face once I got out from behind my own insecurities.

We all seek leaders, professionally and personally, in one aspect or another of our lives. Be it our parents, our bosses, our government, our teachers, even celebrities. Each of us have people who look to us in the same way. You don’t have to be a boss or a manager at work. As parents, our kids look to us for direction and watch (very carefully) how we handle conflict. How we address conflict/issues shapes the way they act or react. It can either build trust . . . or erode it.

I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure I am not in the minority when I say, “I hate conflict.” We all do. But it’s part of life. How quickly we respond to, and how specifically we address conflict in the workplace, is critical to how you and I will be perceived as a leader within our organizations. Conflict doesn’t have to be angry and confrontational. That’s a mistake too many people make.

Business Foundations are no different from Family Foundations. To be solid, they must be built upon leaders who have their employees and/or families trust in every aspect. We get confused and misguided when we think that a leader is someone everyone likes. It’s not. It’s gaining their trust through your actions, often in the toughest situations, that gains their admiration.

I know many great leaders in this industry, and I am fortunate to call many of them mentors and friends. I am thankful for those times when they have “smacked me in the face.”

Hope you all have a great weekend with you families.

Be well.


p.s. Not only do elephants eat a lot, but they also … a lot (and everywhere).


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2 Responses to “Dealing with Conflict. Are You an Elephant?: Word on the Street — August 11th thru August 15th”

  1. Susan C says:

    Right on Kevin.

  2. JOHN C says:

    Kevin, that is a very good observation. Confrontations are not easy. And as you say they do not have to be confrontational.
    But they do have to be addressed. I have always looked at it this way as a manager of people.
    We are like a coach in any sport. The coach has to take players in and out, in any situation. The players may not like it, but that is the coaches job. Well, we as managers of people, the same thing applies. Our employees count on us to make that decision. Some times it never comes, and the employees wonder why. I have seen it many times.
    One time with me years ago, I had an employee, in a management position with whom, I hired from a head hunter. Once he was there he was telling other employees about me. Late coming in leaving etc. Well, I had heard enough of it and called him into my office, shut the door and we had a very pleasant discussion for a couple of hours. It was not ugly, but I told him what I heard. He acknowledged what he said. So I said, let me tell you my side of the story. He did not see me coming in on Sunday at midnight from a road trip. Working all Day Saturday or Sunday on a job. Leaving at 0500 in the morning to catch a flight. Working at nights with clients at dinner, when he was home with his family, playing golf on Saturday when I was working.
    I said I have never told you these things. But if you don’t see the big picture, it is easy to find fault with a person.
    So I hit it head on and that eliminated that. That stopped all the gossip around the office.
    I have done this for years. It seems to work and you have a great point for all the distributors out there running a business.
    Thank you for making time to post the note. It helps us all. BECAUSE IT HAPPENS TO US ALL..

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