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Have you ever found yourself avoiding someone at work, even though you couldn’t put your finger on what it was that bothered you about them? Or have you been in a situation where conflicts with coworkers seemed to arise out of nowhere, leaving you feeling frustrated and at a loss for how to resolve them? It turns out that these situations may have less to do with the other person and more to do with the version of ourselves that we struggle to handle.

As business leaders, professionals and owners, we are often faced with interpersonal conflicts in the workplace. However, these conflicts can be an opportunity for growth and development if we approach them with the right mindset. Here are three relatable examples from different contexts:

  1. Delegation: A CEO who struggles with delegating tasks may find themselves clashing with employees who are independent and self-sufficient. In this case, the CEO’s frustration may actually stem from their own fear of losing control that is triggered when their subordinates push back on delegation or do not adhere to the task.
  2. Decision-making: A business owner who struggles with decision-making may find themselves avoiding employees who are decisive and confident, as this may highlight their own insecurities or feelings of inadequacy.
  3. Communication: A manager who has difficulty expressing their emotions or needs may find themselves frustrated with team members who are more vocal or assertive, as this may challenge their own communication style.

We don’t avoid people we don’t like; we avoid versions of ourselves we can’t handle. By recognizing these patterns and working to improve our own mindset and approach to conflicts, we can become better leaders and foster healthier relationships in the workplace.

So how can we overcome these challenges and transform our leadership mindset? Here are five practical tips:

  1. Practice self-awareness: Take the time to reflect on your triggers and examine the patterns in your behavior that may be contributing to interpersonal conflicts.
  2. Seek feedback: Ask for feedback from trusted colleagues or mentors who can provide an objective perspective on your leadership style and blind spots.
  3. Embrace discomfort: Rather than avoiding or suppressing difficult emotions, allow yourself to feel them and use them as a catalyst for growth and development.
  4. Develop new mental models: Work with an executive coach or therapist to develop new mental models and tools for managing triggers and conflicts.
  5. Cultivate a growth mindset: Approach interpersonal conflicts and challenges as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than obstacles to be avoided.

Transforming your leadership mindset requires a willingness to confront uncomfortable truths about ourselves and a commitment to personal growth and development. As business owners, professionals and managers, it’s important to invest in our own personal development and seek out resources such as executive coaching to help us master ourselves and our leadership roles.

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