A teacher sends a poorly worded email to parents, and it sparks outrage and calls to the principal to fire her. A nurse administers the wrong drug to a patient because she misunderstands the doctor’s orders, and the patient becomes severely ill. A demolition crew accidentally razes the wrong house after showing up at the correct house number but the wrong street. Now a family is basically homeless.
Each one of these issues lands in the lap of a manager or supervisor who has to now steer his employees, company, and customers through an epic failure. The work is difficult and requires more skills than many leaders today have or tend to use—like accountability, diplomacy, and problem-solving. Leaders are virtual firefighters regularly putting out blazes at work that damage relationships, reputations, and productivity. The three just described are infernos. One of the incidents could just as easily have resulted in death like any real fire.
Whether a demanding customer is dissatisfied (again) with a product or service or whether two employees are at odds with each other about how a project should be handled, leaders are plagued with problems. Large or small, problems at work are ubiquitous. They are inconvenient, and they are distracting. The good news is, oftentimes, problems are also surmountable. All a good leader needs is the knowledge and competence to fix them, and when possible, to prevent them in the first place. This book will focus on people problems while addressing process issues that further complicate matters. Simply put, the purpose of this book is to address how to think critically when dealing with people issues.
Critical thinking skills tend to be applied more readily when fixing broken methods and faulty products, but we do not apply them when first assessing relationship issues. Probably because, comparatively speaking, faulty products and processes may actually be easier to fix than relationship issues! For those unskilled at dealing with people problems, any given workday is a firefight that is inadequately fought with a garden hose when a firehose is what’s needed. Even for the skilled conflict manager, workplace fires can be overwhelming because of the sheer number that regularly pop up. Some are hard to extinguish because they are given oxygen by people who cannot let things go. They continue to burn for far too long and are a drain on teams and the work environment. As a result, relationships become broken beyond repair, yet these people must continue to work together.
Trying to settle discord over the long haul is exhausting. If you have experienced it, you know how it is. Those mornings when you hate to get out of the car to go inside the office because you know you’ll be faced with the “headache-of-the-day”. You sit in the parking lot until that meager pep talk you give yourself inspires just enough energy to drag your weary body and mind to the front door. You know it’s going to be the same stress, just a different day, and you just don’t want to deal with it.
Powerful leaders eliminate the weariness through effective, decisive measures that do not tolerate protracted people problems. Successful leaders build trust and influence when they demonstrate savviness in overcoming obstacles and resolving issues quickly for the company and clients. Unfortunately, not every leader is adroit at using critical thinking to analyze people problems. Neither do they get the training needed to master skills like communications, self-awareness, conflict management, and engagement. Some supervisors and managers base solutions on intuition, limited experience, or plain old guesswork. Having a method to apply to people problems—especially complicated ones—can help leaders approach them logically and with greater success. This book will teach you such a method. The bigger and more complex the issue, the more applicable this method. How big? Goliath-sized!
The method, therefore, is called the Goliath Method and is based on the Bible story of David and Goliath. When we consider the magnitude of the challenge in the story and the apparent lack of means to fix it, this tale mirrors what leaders face every day at work, home, and community. Inside these pages, we explore problems that seem colossal and insurmountable. We answer the questions that plague decision makers in crucial moments.
• How do I think critically about a relationship issue?
• How do I identify the real problem versus the symptoms that are mainly distractions?
• What kinds of risks are involved, and how do I minimize them?
• How does the leader inspire the team at a time when morale is low or declining?
• What steps should a leader take to boost the performance of the best employees while minimizing the damage of poor performing employees?
Critical thinking skills are important when tackling difficult people issues because a leader must add depth and breadth to the problems that arise. Things are not always as they are presented. Much like the dilemma David faced in trying to defeat the giant, leaders will find a strategic approach to their Goliath-sized people problems by using the Goliath Method.
This book is written for any leader who struggles with managing conflict at work. Moreover, the lessons are universal and can be used inside and outside of the workplace. An event that reflects enormous problems created by people and perpetuated by poor leadership is the basis for the lessons you will learn. Though the background for these lessons is a biblical story, this is not a religious book. When managers and supervisors are left scratching their heads over problems that emerge from coworkers’ treatment of each other or managers who struggle with leading difficult employees or when life outside of work erupts in conflict, applying this method can simplify the complex and lead to solutions that are relevant to each issue. Maybe there are multiple solutions to the same problem. Which one will lead to the greatest success? What is the next most important step? You will find the answers in the pages to follow.