In leadership many people will shy away from confrontation in fear of dog fights, however, as a leader of leaders, if you neglect to bring healthy correction to the people you lead you will not see the growth you want to see. Here are 22 keys to help produce healthy & successful outcomes when bringing correction through confrontation.
1. Influence is like a fuel tank
Don’t be the person that only catches up with a leader when you need to challenge or tell them off. Get some influence in the bank before you make a withdrawal. This is done by catching up and sometimes just affirming them & encouraging them. If you do this the times of correction will be received more effectively because the person you are leading knows you care for & appreciate them.
2. Think the best of the person
It’s our job to believe the best in people. Some people may have done the wrong thing and genuinely feel terrible about it. Enter into conversation with a mindset that the person genuinely wants to grow and be more like Christ.
3. Avoid conclusions & labels
Don’t arrive at a conclusion regarding the person, the situation or motives before you have had the conversation. If you do, it can negatively affect your ability to steer the conversation towards a positive out come.
4. You have a right to speak into a leaders life on your team
Some individuals will make you feel as if you don’t have a right to speak into their life be it for reasons of personal differences or even the fact that the age gap is too close but it’s important to remember that if a person has volunteered to be apart of a team that you lead they are agreeing to have you speak into their lives whether they like it or not. You have a right to speak into the lives of people you are trusting with responsibility and if they refuse to let you challenge them then they cannot be trusted with greater levels of responsibility.
5. What you fail to conquer will eventually conquer you
When you neglect to address an issue you are actually giving license for that thing to breed. What you tolerate will grow.
6. Wear the responsibility of correction
Never say, “The pastor above me asked me to speak to you about this issue, I don’t really think this is a problem but they do”. This breeds disunity and carries a spirit of Absalom (division from the appointed leader). Instead either wear the correction yourself “I’ve noticed this thing that I would like to speak with you about” or if you need to put more weight on the conversation say “The pastor above me asked me to speak to you about this issue, and its something that I actually agree with them that needs to be addressed”
7. Public Praise, Private feedback
Always be a person who brings public praise of members of our team. Bringing feedback in private protects the reputation of a leader. There is however times when public feedback is appropriate. i.e. If someone does something in front of other team members or teens that is going directly against the culture of our youth ministry the public feedback around the action in this situation can be used as a tool to affirm the positive culture that we are going for… Statements like “Why are you doing that bro, that’s not the culture we’re going for at one youth” can be used in these situations. Be careful with this though as you would never want to make this person feel attacked of belittled.
8. Don’t bring correction over text
Text, email and messenger are all dangerous things when it comes to correction. Very seldom is it appropriate to bring correction using these means. Tone & intonation is absent from the words you send and therefore can be incorrectly assumed by the reader. Some people will read the words you have typed and come to a conclusion the can cause serious damage. Try to do confrontation face to face. If this is not possible do it over a phone call. Very rarely should you text.
9. Correction Sandwich
Correction sandwich is a 101 necessity. Praise & affirm the person first, then bring correction, and lastly finish the conversation with positive affirmation of the person again.
Your correction will be received more effectively because the person you are leading knows you care for & appreciate them.
10. Affirmation & Softness opens the heart.
Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
If you want good outcomes in your confrontation, take a gentle approach. Be firm, but be nice. You want the person to leave knowing that although they may need to make some changes you still believe in and like them.
11. Describe what you perceive
Explain to the person what you have noticed. But do it in a way where it leaves an exit door for you, so you’re not trapped if you’ve made an incorrect observation. I.E: Hey little Timmy, I’ve noticed something that I wanted to talk to you about. It’s been troubling me a little bit and I’m hoping you can shed some light on it in case I’ve seen this wrong….. The other day I think I saw you doing the following thing…(insert issue here)… was that the case because if it was I just think it would be great for us to have a conversation about it.
If you approach the conversation this way and it turns out to be an incorrect observation you can easily say: OH that’s great that I saw that thing wrong man, I was so worried hey! But I’m pumped that it wasn’t the case. Ya had me worried for a moment! Bro you’re a legend. I’m seriously so glad that wasn’t what was happening.
12. Describe the problem the action has caused
If the issues you raise are in fact happening you can then move into the next part of the conversation. Little Timmy “Yeah Ps Fred, that thing that you saw me do actually happend”. Ps Fred could then reply something like “ah ok Timmy, You see the reason I bring this up is because when you do things like that it actually puts our youth ministry in an awkward position because it goes against the culture that we’re going for. We want to honour God with our lifestyle and that thing that you did, isn’t the best example of that”. What we are trying to do is highlight how a negative action can produce issues in the bigger picture: I.E
– Inappropriate Relations = Problem with child protection
– Inappropriate language = affirmation of the wrong culture
– Liking dodgy stuff on the Gram = teenagers do what you do
13. They don’t always know there is a problem
Enter into a conversation more often then not assuming that the person is doing the thing they are doing not because they are malicious or evil but genuinely because they simply don’t understand it’s not inline with the culture our youth ministry has set.
14. Explain why the problem is important
Explain to them why the a solution or change to the problem is important by giving them realistic examples of where said behaviour can lead and what negative impacts it can have in their own life and/or in the lives of the young people they are leading.
15. Don’t ambush people with correction
When you need to bring up an issues with a person you are leading you want to make sure the way you approach this issues will produce a positive outcome. When people feel caught off guard or shocked they don’t always respond in a positive way. A great way to minimize the chances of a negative response is to give warning to the person, that you need to chat to them about an issue. This might be before a service with a statement like:
“Hey little Timmy, just quickly, after the service do you have a minute? I just want to have a quick chat with you about a small issue that’s come to my attention. Just wanted to give you a heads up. Lets talk after hey.”
This approach will then allow the person to ‘sweat’ it out for a few hours and be mentally ready for confrontation before it actually takes place. Just make sure when you give the person a heads up you’re not giving them too much info.
16. Have a conversation, not a lecture
Many leaders get caught on the lecture bus when giving correction as opposed to the conversation bus. Make sure you are self aware of how you are coming across. Give the person you are speaking with ample opportunity to speak and converse. You will find out more info and will also be more effectively able to asses the condition of the persons heart / attitude. If the other person is not a big talker, ask direct question to open up the conversation. Question like the following can help with this:
What do you think of this?
What are your thoughts?
Would you agree with that assessment or am I missing anything?
Is there anything you feel I need to be aware of?
How are you feeling right now?
17. Use the right terminology
If the issues you are addressing is at a point where the leader needs to be stepped down off the team indefinitely or for a season it’s important that you use the right terminology. You never want some one to turn around after a conversation and say to other team members “My oversight kicked me of the team”. During the conversation you need to explain that you are not kicking them off the team but more so “Their actions have disqualified them from being apart of it”.
18. Have a silent witness if it could blow up on you or potentially be inappropriate.
There are some cases when confrontation can be hairy. Whether the person doesn’t want to hear what you have to say or because the nature of the conversation could be potential miscued in an inappropriate way. In circumstances like this, have a silent witness in the room. If there is a third person this means that if the person you are speaking with makes an accusation about something you’ve said or done during the meeting you have someone to back up your integrity. A silent witness should be someone who is trusted by you and is in a key position in the team you are apart of. If you have to have a conversation where a silent witness is necessary ask your oversights to help you choose an appropriate silent witness.
19. Get the person to tell you what you’ve said
As you are speaking to the person you need to be aware that what you are communicating may not always be what is understood. You could say one thing and it be understood in a completely different way. A random example of this could be as follows: “There is a new obesity study which is looking for a larger test group”.
Because some sentences can be misunderstood its important to get the person you are speaking with to tell you what you’ve said. That way, you can be sure they understand you & your heart correctly.
20. Offer a process of restoration and hope
Always strive to have eyes to see what Jesus sees in people. God took Saul a murderer of Christians & turned him into one of the greatest soul winners the world has ever seen. People can recover from their mistakes and it’s important that we give them an opportunity to do so. Whenever you raise an issue with a person (even if healthy disciplinary action is required in extreme circumstances) make sure you speak about the process of restoration and give them some things you want them to be doing to help in the process of restoration. This way they feel like there’s still hope in the future.
21. Ask them to verbally commit to the process
Once you’ve discussed the process of restoration, ask the person to commit to the process. By them verbally committing to this you can be sure that you’re not just assuming they will change. When someone verbally commits to a process you can hold them to that commitment later on down the track if you don’t see the changes you spoke about.
***** New Addition:
22. Don’t Rush the process
The goal is to win hearts not battles. Take your time, and if it takes a few weeks longer then needed to get to the result you want, while still keeping the persons heart engaged it’s worth it…. The long game is a strong game. (Note: Some instances do require immediate action – eg. extreme moral failings etc.)