Leadership sometimes demands confrontation, but I don’t know many leaders who simply like doing it. Here are reasons some leaders struggle with confronting even when the confrontation is necessary:
- They’ve had no training in confrontation. Some folks are naturally gifted at speaking the truth in love, but most of us need help figuring out how to confront well. Having no training often means avoiding confrontation.
- They’ve had negative experiences confronting others. They’ve tried it in the past, and it’s led only to more trouble. Broken relationships. Accusations. Pain. “Maybe it’s just not worth it,” they think.
- They think they can’t afford to lose workers. When you already have too few workers, confrontation can be too risky. Why take a chance on losing workers if you can just overlook their wrongs?
- They were raised in homes with unhealthy confrontation. I realize that we’re responsible for our own actions, but our upbringing does influence us. If you’ve seen unhealthy confrontation (perhaps non-existent, or legalistically overdone), you’re less likely to want to confront.
- They’ve been the recipient of bad confrontation. It usually takes only one browbeating before you begin delaying confronting others. You don’t want others to hurt like you’ve been hurt.
- They don’t trust their own hearts. It’s possible to confront with the wrong motives or the wrong goals in mind. If you know your heart is sometimes deceitful, it feels best not to confront unless your heart is right – and then your heart never gets there.
- They don’t like conflict in general. Whatever the source of the conflict is, they just don’t like it. They’ll put up with a lot of junk if it helps them avoid controversy and battles.
- They’ve been taught that it’s wrong to judge. That’s a faulty understanding of Matthew 7:1-2, but it’s a prevalent understanding. Confrontation is ruled out if judgment assumes passing judgment on somebody.
- They don’t know the best next steps. If you don’t know what to do after the confrontation (e.g., What do I do if the person admits his wrong and asks for help? What if the person denies any wrongdoing?), it’s easiest just to avoid it.
Which of these is your biggest struggle? What would you add to this list?