“Joseph, I feel you and your team missed the mark.” 

It was August a few years ago that my team and I had put together an event at our church, an event that turned out three times as many people as we were expecting. The event was for parents and students that would be making the massive step from the Children’s Ministry into the Student Ministry. 

I sat down with Julie, a trusted leader in our network who also happened to be attending the event with her student. As a learner in the book Strengths Finder by Tom Rath, I sought out her trusted voice for feedback of the evening. 

We sat down, and she asked a few questions as we started. Then she said it with kindness and humility. “Joseph, I feel you and your team missed the mark.”

My heart sank. Did we really miss the mark with all of those people? Three times the number of people quickly went from a win to a burden. 

We continued our conversation, and this is what I can tell you; Each question Julie asked was covered in care and a genuine desire to understand. The humility that came with her critiques carried the heart to help me become a better leader. By the time the conversation finished, I felt both challenged and encouraged. She spoke the truth I needed to hear in love that I needed to feel. 


A good relationship and a humble heart

positions you to have a great confrontational conversation. 


The way some of you feel about the word confrontational is how I feel when someone invites me to CrossFit; not going to happen. Why would I put myself in that miserable position? However, competent confrontation is paramount to leadership. 

Tim Elmore says that leaders and teams must “build bridges of relationship that can bear the weight of truth.”

Now I want you to think for a moment about the team that you are on. It could be a team at work, a board, or your family. What conversation are you not having that you know should be taking place? 

The reality is confrontation can be challenging, and truth can hurt. However, Jesus didn’t back away from this saying, “the Truth sets us free.” As leaders, we must see that hard conversations done in love are the key to winning teams. 


Four signs you are ready to have a challenging conversation:

  1. You genuinely care about the person 
  2. Humility is the posture of your heart
  3. Your thoughts are grounded in truth, not feelings
  4. You have asked God for wisdom


Four signs you are not ready to have a challenging conversation:

  1. You can’t wait to confront everyone on your social media feed 
  2. Your desire to expose someone’s flaws outweighs your care for them 
  3. You want to win
  4. You haven’t asked God for wisdom


After my conversation with Julie, my relationship and capacity as a leader both grew. The best leaders and teams prioritize hard conversations. 

Let me ask you again, who do you need to have a challenging conversation with? Prioritize it, make a plan, and become a team that wins.  If you would like more practical steps on how to have these types of conversations, The Maxwell Company has a great article with helpful suggestions for confronting well. https://corporatesolutions.johnmaxwell.com/blog/ten-guidelines-for-confrontation/


This article was written by MULTIPLi’s Director of Operations, Joseph Elder.


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