Every leader has encountered a situation where one of his executive team members has messed up. It happens.
The problem is, in the heat of the moment, if the blooper is big, we might tend to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind.
Statements such as “I can’t believe you did that!” or “What were you thinking?” can really shut down any further dialogue. They can also fuel negative emotions and shame. These don’t help the situation.
What can you do to avoid creating more problems?
How can you respond in a supportive and proactive way so that the two of you can work from mess to solution?
Here are three questions that make this simpler than you think, helping you to turn a “bungle” into a positive coaching opportunity.
1. Focus on desired outcomes.
Pause. Breathe. Then, ask yourself, “What outcome do we need to achieve here?” This will help quell your emotions and keep dialogue productive.
2. Focus on the future.
Ask your executive, “What do we need to do from here?” This allows the executive to see that you are working as a team. At the same time, you are encouraging your executive’s critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities.
3. Focus on support.
Follow with the question, “How can I help?” Reinforce your show of support and your confidence in the executive’s ability to move forward.
The way you handle crisis can be alienating or team-strengthening. You’ll also be modeling this for others, fostering trust and support for growth in your organization.
© Patti Cotton and patticotton.com. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that attribution is made to Patti Cotton and patticotton.com, with links thereto.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive consulting, leadership development, succession planning, change management, and conflict resolution. She is also an experienced Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.