How To Lead Through The Heat to Get The Right Results

Even though there were only two people talking, the room was filled with tempestuous discussion. It smelled of conflict and felt like the heat was on.

They had been stuck there for a long time.

Both parties wanted to be right.

Each blaming each other.

Finally, I stood up and told them to stop.

“This is getting nowhere,” I said. “I have an idea, but it’s going to take both of you to make it work.” They agreed reluctantly.

In any crisis, I told them, there are solutions waiting to be implemented, but it’s difficult to implement them or even see them when we’re in the heat of the moment, especially when we’re focused on blame and defensiveness.

Then I led them in an exercise:

Imagine that we have left the room we’re in, and we’re walking together down the hall to a new room. It smells fresh and feels cool and looks bright.

Now I want you to see two people at the conference table. Watch, observe and listen.

They’re in a heated discussion. And, by sheer coincidence, they’re faced with the same difficulty as you.  

Don’t react.

Allow yourself to disengage and keep your distance.

Now listen to the argument, and tell me what advice you would give them.

What would you tell them to do?

Soon they were both coming up with creative ideas and solutions faster than I could write them down. Then we looked at the list together and soon a workable solution was identified.

The solutions had been right there in the room all along.

Here are some strategies to try when conflict may be blocking your access to solutions:

Step back:  Distance yourself from the situation. Take a birds-eye view and give yourself a fresh perspective.

Diminish the Magnitude: Dialing back the importance of the situation makes it easier to move past who is right and who is wrong.

Seek NEW solution: When the heat is on, think of what you would tell someone in your situation to do. We are always better at advising others, because it’s not about us.

Solutions are always in the room with us, waiting to be summoned. .

Lead From Within: When we are busy blaming, complaining, and panicking, we can’t even consider a compromise. Turn down the heat, let your ego come to a rest, and allow solutions to flow from the heart.

 


 

N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Additional Reading you might enjoy:

 

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

44 Responses to “How To Lead Through The Heat to Get The Right Results”

  1. Martina

    30. Jul, 2013

    Excellent exercise Lolly.

    Getting past the inferno of arguments and the quagmire of stuckness requires that we step away from the heat, remove the onus of a must-win-at-all-cost mentality, check our egos, stop talking and start thinking differently.

    As heart-based leaders, we know that the answers and an authentic solution already lie within us. We must only remember to stop the noise, and flames, of what’s going on and what’s being said to see it

    Love the metaphors.

    Martina

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      30. Jul, 2013

      What fantastic metaphors. The heat is on!

      you are so right, Martina when you write:

      As heart-based leaders, we know that the answers and an authentic solution already lie within us. We must only remember to stop the noise, and flames, of what’s going on and what’s being said to see it

      I agree with my whole heart.

      Thanks for your insight and sharing it with us.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  2. Jon Mertz

    30. Jul, 2013

    Lolly,

    A great way to step back…. by changing our perspective, changing our role, we engage in finding solutions. Lowering the heat and releasing ego are challenges to overcome yet necessary if there is a larger purpose and goal at stake. Embracing that understanding also keeps us focused on developing those NEW solutions. Great post, great insights. Thanks!

    Jon

    Reply to this comment
  3. Alli Polin

    30. Jul, 2013

    I love that, Lolly! It actually tells me a lot about how much they trusted you. It feels “funny” for people to imagine in the way that you suggested yet they walked with you in trust and came up with inspired solutions. I’ve used similar exercises to help people to step into a new perspective. Powerful way to create a shift!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      30. Jul, 2013

      Trust comes from giving trust.

      My client understood that I trusted them to come up with the solution.

      Not me.

      But them.

      Giving trust gains trust.

      Thanks for sharing Alli!

      Truly appreciate you!
      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  4. Patrick

    30. Jul, 2013

    Lolly,
    Great post and I totally agree with Martina and Jon.
    I´d say that we should stop the soundbites and the Me, Me attitude sometimes, and engage in more meaningful interaction
    Thanks for the insights
    Pat

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      30. Jul, 2013

      Meaningful interactions happen when we see each other, hear each other and acknowledge each other.

      Avoid conflict by always showing appreciation and acknowledgment for another.

      Thanks Pat for stopping by and commenting.

      Means a lot to me.
      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  5. Frank Sonnenberg

    30. Jul, 2013

    Great post Lolly.

    You’re right . . . the solution is often right in the room. The key is getting beyond the egos and self-interests. That requires a clear mission, strong culture, and true leadership. Thanks again for sharing.

    Best,

    Frank

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      30. Jul, 2013

      Like everything in life Frank,

      We must move past our egos and self interests to tap into what we really want.

      Most conflicts stems from wanting to be right, wanting to show that self matters.

      If we let people know they matter, the ego would not have to take such a big stand.

      Thanks for stopping by

      I always enjoy your insights and wisdom.
      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  6. Sterling Ledet

    30. Jul, 2013

    Reminds me of that line from Henry the 8th, “Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that it do singe yourself”.

    One of the things I like about you, Lolly is that your focus on this blog is consistently on shining more light.

    I appreciate you.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Terri Klass

    30. Jul, 2013

    Love the idea, Lolly, that we actually all have the perfect solutions within ourselves!
    I have found that when possible, the best outcome for conflict is integrating both people’s ideas into a well thought-out plan. And as you share, getting a new, fresh viewpoint of the issue at hand, can enable more creative solutions. Thanks so much for looking at conflict this way! Terri

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      30. Jul, 2013

      Terri,

      The simple things are the most profound things. We do have the answers we just need to be quiet enough to hear them.
      Thanks Terri for stopping by and sharing.
      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  8. Michelle Morris

    30. Jul, 2013

    Lolly,

    As always – your insights are so valuable to me. The imagery of two individuals walking down the hall to a bright and cheery room to solution a problem is amazing.

    This also made me think of the power a third person (you in this circumstance) can make in diffusing the situation. As leaders its important to know our role as that third person as well. And I love the statement “Giving trust gains trust.” Yes, it does!

    All the best,
    Michelle

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      30. Jul, 2013

      The power lies in removing yourself from our own twisted thoughts of ego.

      Once we let go, we allow something new to merge.
      Thanks Michelle for all your lovely words and comments.

      Truly appreciate you.
      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  9. Bill

    30. Jul, 2013

    I was working with a couple in Florida when out of no where they kind of went instant nuclear. Caught me completely off guard. What I discovered later from their Golden Personality Profiler was the husband was all Rational and no Empathy and the wife was all Empathy and no Rational. Therefore when they lost control neither one was able to hear the other persons words correctly. The husband was all thinking rational language and the wife all feeling emotional language.
    After trying 3 different ideas to help them communicate I decided the only thing they could do was call a time out and return to the discussion once they both let their emotions calm down. Very interesting discovery.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Jon Stallings

    30. Jul, 2013

    Great post Lolly, I am currently reading a book titled “Crucial Conversations; Tools for Talking When Stake are High” The authors often suggest that when the conversation is heated that we step out and then rejoin with the perspective of the other person.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Peg Gillard

    30. Jul, 2013

    Good work, Lolly!

    This reminds me of a section of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. He speaks about stuckness and that simply by stepping back from the immediate difficulty one can come back with a totally different perspective, just because they changed direction. I recently “re-learned” this as I was packing my camping gear on my Harley and the tent poles didn’t fit well in the bag. After mulling it over, making do, and then walking away for awhile, the next time I tried to put them in, I found the very simple and obvious solution.

    Those obvious and simple solutions are often right in plain view but we are blinded by our anger/fear and can’t see them. All it takes is an “unstuckness break” to remove the blinders and shed light on solution. The art lies in taking that break before getting studk turns to fiery anger.

    Peg

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      30. Jul, 2013

      What a brilliant illustration from life that depicts us getting in our own way.

      That is such a great story Peg, we can all relate. Thanks so much for sharing.

      Always a pleasure to hear your brilliance.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  12. LaRae Quy

    30. Jul, 2013

    Loved that exercise you offered them; in depersonalizing their situation, they could be more objective in their approach. I also am a big believer in interrupting the emotions that come up in a heated discussion….our survival brain feels threatened and lashes back. Taking a minute to calm down allows us to move from the emotional part of our brain to the more logical, thinking brain…it’s a great way of handling conflict!

    Thanks Lolly…your words encourage so many!

    Reply to this comment
  13. Panteli Tritchew

    30. Jul, 2013

    Hi Lolly:
    A wonderful post and reminder that if we can detach ourselves from our ego and make space for the heart, the heat of conflict can be harnessed to inspire both parties to see the truth that is within the room and within themselves.

    …and speaking of inspiration…Thank you once again!

    🙂

    Reply to this comment
  14. Michael Friedman

    30. Jul, 2013

    Brilliant post. I’ve seen numerous contracts and opportunities blown by people getting wrapped-up in ego-driven confrontations. By getting them to be mindful of their reasons for acting the way they did, you took them off of the playground and into another zone of comfort and creativity. Cheers.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Glen Riddick

    30. Jul, 2013

    What you say reminds me of something I just learned recently on a movie called never back down 2 (beat down ? ) the trainer said ,a angry mind is a narrow mind.you can’t let other people make you angry.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      30. Jul, 2013

      Meaningful interactions happen when we see each other, hear each other and acknowledge each other.

      Avoid conflict by always showing appreciation and acknowledgment for another.

      Thanks Pat for stopping by and commenting.

      Means a lot to me.
      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      30. Jul, 2013

      But it does happen and we do get angry…. we are human…

      Reply to this comment
  16. Colleen_Cooley

    30. Jul, 2013

    In luxury Real Estate, things can get pretty heated at the closing table. I have learned that once you pull emotion & opinion out of the mix, you are left with the facts or numbers on the table. Then everyone cools off:)

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      30. Jul, 2013

      Dearest Colleen,

      Your comment really hit home for me, most of the leaders I coach always say, lets just stick to logic and no emotions.

      As someone who is a big advocate for heart based leadership, having a feeling is a good thing, how we channel it is where the gift lies.

      So yes we can always be logical and stick to facts, but life is a bit more messy then that.

      What do you think?

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
      • Colleen_Cooley

        31. Jul, 2013

        The best feeling in the world is leaving a closing with both parties happy. My job is to make that happen. But all too often, emotional warfare gets in the way.

        Think about it. There are two parties consisting of husband & wife and their attorneys & agents. The higher the amount of the transaction, the “smarter” each party is. One side wants something the other side doesn’t want to give up. No matter what, everyone feels they’re right.

        Many people cling to preconceived opinions, or have negotiating tactics that require intervention. By asking all to leave selfish emotions and barbs at the door, it turns the focus to the spirit of the deal.

        The gift does lie in knowing when empathy can chill things down. So I guess I stand corrected, Lolly. It usually always boils down to a monetary concession. And sometimes you need to give the Seller’s that extra $10k because she loved her neighbors.

        It’s a win-win… and everyone goes home happy!

        Reply to this comment
  17. Simon Harvey

    30. Jul, 2013

    Within such heat it is hard to tell what is going on, it becomes all encompassing and hard to make much sense from what is being said.

    Cooling down requires inner strength, trust and belief. Belief that when you stop fanning the blaze it will burn itself out and you will be able to see solutions that you could not within the flames.

    They must release their energy, and you must embrace your wisdom within that tells you to listen to what is being said. Few words are spoken without some truth within them, and it is up to us to open our minds so we can hear the lessons within the heat. If we fan the flames with our desire to be right, then all we will do is to keep the flames burning.

    As your example showed when they stopped trying to be right and looked just at the source of the fire, they soon discovered that it was they that were causing it and blinding themselves with their own desire and passion. Don’t blow on a fire you are trying to put out, watch and listen for the cause and fuel. As the watch and listen you will be able to see the solutions you were looking for.

    Great post, Lolly. Never pick up the hot end of a burning stick.

    Looking forward to the chat to night.

    Warmest,
    Simon

    Reply to this comment
  18. Blair Glaser

    30. Jul, 2013

    Dear Lolly,
    What a powerful exercise. I can imagine the relief in the room when the two, through your guidance, were able to step back, access their own wisdom, and work together towards a common goal.
    Great post. Great work.
    Warmly,
    Blair

    Reply to this comment
  19. Karin Hurt

    30. Jul, 2013

    Oh, I ‘ve seen that burning room. Great way to restrain the fire, while maintaining the important cinders of truth. Love the technique.

    Reply to this comment
  20. Dougie Cameron

    31. Jul, 2013

    What a wonderful post Lolly and a fantastic exercise. I was always taught to find the points of agreement and then the point of conflict become less significant. This is a fantastic tool to complement that!

    Reply to this comment
  21. Barbara Kimmel

    31. Jul, 2013

    Lolly- great post. I wonder if this strategy would work between 2 people who come into that room with many years of “baggage” between them?

    Reply to this comment
  22. Joan McLeod

    31. Jul, 2013

    Superb description of what some really can do when they’re in the ‘heat’ of a dispute, Lolly! You know, anyone exposed to learning mediation, facilitation or interest-based communication or negotiation skills (a la “Crucial Conversations”, the current best seller in the domain of conflict resolution) *loves* finding (and the idea of applying) the skill. Problem is, many can’t… for many reasons – not the least of which are that sometimes it seems like a ‘right’ to state your mind, or people sincerely like a good debate. Stepping back is a choice, but it is also a learned skill… and a trade – adding the skill and systems as a ‘Conflict Navigator’ to your toolbox is very rewarding – and profitable for both individuals and organizations who want to support people (and friends =). Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      01. Aug, 2013

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us Joan.

      You are right when you say, Stepping back is a choice, but it is also a learned skill… and a trade – adding the skill and systems as a ‘Conflict Navigator’ to your toolbox is very rewarding- and profitable for both individuals and organizations who want to support people

      NOT ONLY as profits for business but personally.

      Great additional thoughts to already wonderful comments

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  23. Debra

    01. Aug, 2013

    Lolly what insight, I love the way you use a story to bring this to life.

    How amazing was Mr. Covey when he packaged this neatly into habits 4,5, & 6, Think win-win, Seek first to understand and then Synergise . In other word start with a open mind (and heart) , listen (without intent to reply) and then work together to find a solution (1+1 =3).

    Of course your approach includes story telling, NLP and a lot of Lollyitus! Long my you continue to share your insight on how to lead from within!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      01. Aug, 2013

      Dear Debra,

      In workshops people say to me lets get “lollized” I never heard Lollyitus. (it made me smile)

      You are correct that seek first to understand… listen to acknowledge and then together come up with a solution
      an equation for win win for all.

      Thanks so much for sharing.

      I appreciate you.

      Lolly

      Reply to this comment
  24. Garren Fagaragan

    07. Aug, 2013

    aloha Lolly…

    Great process to bring an objective view
    to the crisis…loved it.

    At the end of your post…I found a key that could
    unlock a number crises…its the statement…

    its not about us.

    thanks again…

    Reply to this comment
  25. don Robbins

    05. Aug, 2015

    Heart.

    Reply to this comment

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