If you've lead for awhile, you know what anxiety caused by an internal threat feels like. In many cases, an internal threat causes a lot of distrust and difficulties for us as leaders. When we recognize that an internal threat can happen and that we can plan on how to address it, the effects are greatly reduced. Let's talk about four points on how to address them:
Recognize the internal threat and everything that is causing it.
As a doctor would tell us, we need to address the cause and not just the symptoms. The symptoms of a problem can create a lot of distractions. If two team members are fighting, we might be focused on trying to get them to calm down. What may have caused the problem between the two team members may have been caused by another team member who communicated the wrong policy – which caused the two members to get into a fight. If we only address the fight and ignore the poor communications that caused it, the root problem will cause more problems down the road. Find what it is and what damage it is causing.
Intentionally address the internal threat.
Don't just “medicate” or push the threat down to hide it. Address it. Find out what it is. You don't have to rehash it or dwell on it, but you need to understand it. Be candid about dealing with the threat and see it for what it is. Figure out who is giving it energy and velocity. Stop the fighting, but don't ignore the reasons why the fight happened the first place.
Resolve the internal threat.
Once you know what you're dealing with, and what you need to do to deal with it, it's time to resolve it. Don't let it linger and don't let it go. Deal with it. Make the commitment to resolve it. Be intentional and deliberate and committed. Address the fight. Find what caused it. Decide what needs to happen to stop the fight, and how to prevent it from happening again.
Sometimes we want to linger on a conflict and to spend a lot of debriefing on it. In some cases, we need to do some debriefing, but we need to move on. Make the effort to leave the negative feelings behind, along with the anxiety it causes. We need to leave the grudges behind, too. If we need to resolve other issues in the process, it's important to take of them. Otherwise, we can't move on.
There is a funny video that shows how not to deal with a problem – you can see it here:
Can you relate?