In the classic film, The Godfather, we first meet Luca Brasi as he sits outside the Don’s home rehearsing a speech: “Don Corleone, I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your home on the wedding day of your daughter. And may their first child be a masculine child.”
Luca Brasi was the Godfather’s enforcer, protector, and executioner. The Godfather would send Luca Brasi when he needed to communicate in a way that left no doubt about the outcome. Either you agreed with what the Godfather’s request, or you would be killed.
Unity vs. Confrontation
In yesterday’s post, I examined strength and weaknesses. I pointed to my strengths as identified by StrengthsFinder, all under the broad umbrella of the Strategist.
What about weaknesses? I believe StrengthsFinder leaves the identification to weaknesses more to implication. It doesn’t identify one’s weaknesses, but by highlighting one’s strengths, it implies what the weaknesses might be.
I am a strategist with one strength that points to relationship building—connectedness. Here is how StrengthFinders defines connectedness:
This feeling of Connectedness implies certain responsibilities. If we are all part of a larger picture, then we must not harm others because we will be harming ourselves. We must not exploit because we will be exploiting ourselves. Your awareness of these responsibilities creates your value system. You are considerate, caring, and accepting. Certain of the unity of humankind, you are a bridge builder for people of different cultures. Sensitive to the invisible hand, you can give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond our humdrum lives.
Without completing the StrengthsFinder assessment, if you asked me to describe my relational qualities, I would have used the words “bridge builder.” This defines well my sense of mission and calling as it relates to others. I seek to be a unifier and a peace-keeper.
What is the implied weakness? I am not a good enforcer. I’m not the person you want to send on a difficult mission in which hard lines must be drawn and the intended result is conflict and division. Without question, these missions are necessary from time-to-time. People break the rules and fail to perform to meet expectations. The organization is suffering because of a person’s actions. Clearly, strong words are required, and in the end it may be necessary to go separate ways.
Dealing with Confrontation
Good leadership requires identifying problem people and dealing with them accordingly. Good leadership also recognizes certain people are skilled in the area of conflict while others are more skilled in conflict resolution.
As a leader, I’ve learned to work with this implied weakness. I can confront, but in most instances, I sense after the confrontation is over that my approach was too cold and harsh.
Here’s how it often feels: to mentally prepare for confrontation, I depersonalize my opponent and paint their sin in black and white. I see myself as the Lord’s divine hand of justice and repeat Ezekiel 25:17 to myself as I approach the moment of conflict: “And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.”
Effective? Yes. Christlike? Probably not.
My experience in leadership has taught me that most people suffer with a similar expression of this weakness. Rather than learning to confront with a sense of firmness and compassion, they engage in a mission of seek and destroy.
My Learned Technique When Confrontation Is Necessary
The most effective technique I’ve learned in preparing for confrontation is to write out my approach and intended outcomes. It’s helpful, for me, to remove as much of the emotion as possible, which allows me to communicate more out of a heart of compassion yet not compromise the necessary message and result. I’m not always successful, but, in the end, I remind myself that I am working with an implied weakness, not a great strength. In dealing with confrontation, I am trying to build on my strengths to overcome the weakness.
Have you identified your inherent weaknesses? Can you describe how your weaknesses impact your job performance? What techniques can you practice to help you improve in an area of weakness?
This is Day 5 of my 30 Day Blogging Flush. The purpose of this series is to perform a “writing flush” on this blog, and write 30 posts in 30 days in an effort to break through writer’s block.