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When Little Things Turn Big

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Post When Little Things Turn Big   Sat Aug 13, 2011 12:18 pm

Early steps can prevent little things from becoming big problems. Good leadership skills require you to first recognize when something is bubbling up, and secondly to put in place intervention so a LITTLE problem doesn't become a BIG problem.

I admit that I don't like to play defense. When I was in sales I hated dealing with objections, so I managed this by working hard to eliminate them before they came up. While I'm a good problem-solver, I don't like dealing with problems that could have been prevented, so I work hard to play offense.

When it comes to good leadership skills, learning to play offense is, in my opinion, a beneficial skill to acquire. This means, however, that you must pay attention to everything and everybody around you. The comments that people make about something that bothers them, a concern, or what you often pass off as not important, or someone just complaining are often indications of something brewing.

Now, there is a fine line between responding to every little comment or situation and making a mountain out of a molehill, and being sensitive enough to know when the comment or behavior is something to pay attention to. If you hear the comment (or something similar) a second time or see a change in behavior, you need to assume something is up. You may be wrong, but I've never met anyone who said they were upset that their boss, vendor, colleague was concerned about their satisfaction or happiness.

OK, so you sense something is developing. What do you do about it? Talk to them. Your words are less important than the feeling behind them. Don't worry about saying just the right thing. What people will respond to is the fact that you care enough to bring it up, and frankly that you even noticed it. Taking this step will often defuse the problem. Even if it doesn't, it provides the opportunity to talk about it openly and honestly so it doesn't mushroom out of control.

Good leadership skills demand you don't hide you head in the sand, assume the problem will go away if you ignore it, or shake your head and think it's all about them being jerks. When people know how much you care, they will share information that will help you prevent little things from turning into big things. Wouldn't you rather spend your time preventing problems than handling them after the fact?

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