How to deal with OFFENSE as a leader

by | May 24, 2022

One of the primary responsibilities of leaders is to navigate the relational complexities of working together as a team in order to create a healthy culture and great business results.

In any relationship, offense can creep in unexpectedly—and often in detrimental ways—if not handled properly.

If someone has been publicly disrespectful, stolen credit, dropped the ball on a deadline, or thrown someone under the bus, it can create a reality for the team or people affected where:

– it’s hard to trust,

– communication breaks down,

– they start to go around that person to get the work done,

– they begin to gossip,

– they feel an increase of stress on the job in general.

There’s two caveats to make as it relates to DEALING WITH offense:

First, if an offense can be categorized as someone breaking a company policy or more serious illegal activity—these things should be handled swiftly and in accordance with the legal guidelines given for those situations.

Second, if an offense is none of the above and shows up as a relational, emotional intelligence, or a violation of team values kind of issue, these situations require a bit more nuance…

So, here are 4 tips on how YOU as a leader can deal with offense:

#1 Consider what REALLY happened (What are the FACTS? What MEANING are you giving those facts? What ASSUMPTIONS are you making?)

#2 Consider what’s been done about it so far (What EMOTIONS have been felt or interpretations made—either by you or others—about the FACTS? What actions have been taken as a result? Have those actions contributed toward a resolution of the offense or made it bigger or worse?)

#3 Ask yourself: What do you REALLY want? (What is your goal or ideal outcome? What would a resolution to the situation look like?)

#4 Based on your answers to the above questions, what will you do next?

As a leader, it’s tempting at times to avoid conflict and not talk about an offense to the offender.

It can also be tempting for some leaders to go the other direction of bulldozing the offenders without really seeking to understand the root cause of the problems.

Ongoing or unresolved conflict and offense can be a bit like burying the hatchet with the handle sticking out…and grabbing the handle every time something occurs in the future.

But spending some time in reflection about situations involving offense can lead everyone involved—including yourself as the LEADER—to the best scenario and resolution for you and your team.