Chapter 2

Dealing with the tough stuff—foundational skills

Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.

Jim Rohn, author of Leading an Inspired Life

As a leader, supervisor or manager, there's one inevitable task you will encounter: the tough-stuff conversation. Whether it's addressing underperformance, critiquing work or dealing with heightened emotions, some situations with some people will be tough—there's no escaping it.

Given that we can't escape the tough conversations, a clear choice remains. The fact that these conversations are inevitable leaves us the following options:

  • passively ignore them
  • actively avoid them
  • have them reluctantly
  • get good at them.

We think the last option is by far your best choice if you plan to stay in a leadership or management role for longer than the next month or so, particularly if you want to be a leader with influence. If, on the other hand, you're a few weeks away from handing in your notice and heading to Tuscany to eat, drink and generally be merry, then perhaps you can get away with the first three options.

For the rest of us, who have to make do with reading about Tuscany (and occasionally sitting through a bad romantic comedy about a 50-something woman rediscovering her life) and turn up to work each day, there really isn't much choice. It is imperative to get good at the tough-stuff conversations because, quite simply, your leadership legacy is defined ...

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