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Navigating Challenges and Conflict Resolution


                                                                          Photo by Resume Genius on Unsplash


Face Challenges Head On

In business, challenges and conflicts are inevitable. Whether you're a seasoned business owner, executive or a fractional leader stepping into a new organization, facing these hurdles head-on is the best way to do it, in my opinion. 

In this blog I’m going to outline common challenges faced by fractional executives and effective conflict resolution strategies. However, just like all of these other blogs in this series these concepts are also critical for full-time leaders or business owners. However, they are more critical for fractional leaders because they spend less time with the team and in the organization. 

So, if you are considering a fractional leader I hope this blog will also help you understand how they should handle challenges and conflict within your organization. Afterall, hiring a fractional leader should be a win-win situation, not a destructive one. 


Before You Get Started

If you are new to this blog series then I encourage you to start at the beginning for greater context although it’s not entirely necessary. 

Part 1: The Strategic Power of Fractional Leadership

Part 2: Less is More

Part 3: This is Not For Every Business

Part 4: Are You Ready?

Part 5: Plan for Success

Part 6: Communication and Transparency

My original goal in writing this blog series was to help SMB owners objectively consider all their leadership hiring options to help scale their business more effectively without risking too many valuable resources and keeping the profit margins strong.

I do want to note that these principles apply to all leadership roles in any organization. However, they should be expected from your fractional executive leaders as well or they could tear down all that you have built in your organization, either intentionally or unintentionally.

So, let’s get started!

Common Challenges Faced by Fractional Executives

Fractional executives simply means an executive leader who works part-time on a contract basis but is a part of the leadership team, they are not consultants. They work part-time for multiple organizations, often encountering unique challenges that can help each organization that they work with better because of all the case studies they are personally involved in. 

However, one of the primary hurdles is integrating into existing teams. In other words, gaining the trust and respect of permanent staff. It can be difficult, especially when you're seen as an outsider or that people have a fear that they may lose their job. So, understanding the nuances of a company's culture quickly is essential. This includes not only the formal structure and processes but also the informal networks and unwritten rules that govern the company. Fractional executives must be relational and relatable to do this well. 

Managing expectations is another significant challenge. Fractional executives are often hired to deliver quick results, but balancing these high expectations with the limited time and resources available can be tough. This is why a good fractional executive will establish clear objectives, up front so there is no ambiguity as the business relationship gets started and no surprises as the contract plays out. 

In general, clear and consistent communication is key from a fractional executive because it can be difficult to achieve when you're not physically present at the company. Ensuring that you’re in the loop and that your messages are received and understood requires extra effort. 

For example, I like to have regularly scheduled meetings that have a predetermined agenda, objectives and action steps for the next meeting. Also, when sending emails I keep them short but descriptive. In addition, I also ask for acknowledgement in some way so that I’m not wondering if they received it and/or understood it. I do these things because of some much miscommunication in my work and leadership career that were both my fault and others. So, I choose to take ownership of all situations by communicating with a purpose to ensure there is no confusion. 



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Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies

Conflict resolution is a critical skill for a fractional leader as well as any leader. To do this well, I believe you have to be a really good active listener. This means you must commit to asking great questions and truly listening to all parties involved so that you can understand their perspectives and concerns. Don’t jump to conclusions and make assumptions, simply listen and repeat their concerns back to them so that they believe you understand their perspectives.

Another important point for conflict resolution is to never text or email when trying to resolve conflict. Ideally, make it in-person or a video call. This way you can read body language, ensure your tone is correct and that you don’t lose a message in your text or email inbox.

It’s also important to set clear expectations of how the meeting will go. For example, respect others' time to talk and don’t tolerate outbursts or other disrespectful behavior. Misunderstandings or other disrespectful behavior often escalate conflicts, so ensure that you and other parties in the meeting demonstrate respect and work to understand everyone. I should also point out how important this is to model in front of everyone. You can lose your credibility and respect quickly if you lose your temper and get disrespectful even if you are the leader. 

As Stephen Covey wisely said, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." This means taking the time to hear out each side fully before formulating your response is so important. If you don’t approach conflicts with empathy so that you can understand the emotions and motivations behind the actions of others then you will not earn respect. 

I want to explain that empathy does not mean agreeing with everyone but recognizing their feelings and viewpoints as valid. In other words, it’s making sure they feel respected and heard. Another word for empathy is tolerance. Modeling this can be a powerful tool in de-escalating tensions. Then, it will help you focus on areas of agreement and help build a foundation from which win-win solutions can be developed. Practicing empathy and tolerance will help you and everyone else in the room stay calm, composed and open-minded. This is also vital because emotions can run high during conflicts, and maintaining your composure allows you to approach the situation with a level head. 

My final point on this topic is work to shift the focus from personal grievances to problem-solving as much as possible. This can also help resolve conflicts more effectively and build a better teamwork environment. 

From My Experience

In my 24 years of management and executive leadership experience I have learned that most conflicts come down to poor communication. Meaning, either there was no communication when there was a valid concern. Or, there was very little communication that didn’t inform the other party enough which led to projecting a negative perception of the situation or of the person. 

My advice is to think all your communication through before you send it or say it. Doing this will help you stay proactive and avoid a lot of future conflicts.

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Your Next Steps

  1. Embrace Challenges: See challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. Approach them with a positive mindset and a solution-oriented attitude. Don’t cover them up and quickly move past them.
  2. Develop Strong Listening Skills: Practice active listening to understand different perspectives and foster effective communication. Don’t skip past this because if they don’t feel heard then they will most likely not cooperate. 
  3. Cultivate Empathy & Tolerance: Work on understanding the emotions, motivations, and viewpoints of others to resolve conflicts and build strong relationships.
  4. Communicate Clearly: Ensure that your messages are clear and concise to avoid misunderstandings and ensure effective communication. Do not text or email during conflict resolution. It’s better to wait to meet in-person or virtually than to risk making a situation worse because of an email misunderstanding. 
  5. Stay Calm and Focused: Maintain your composure during conflicts, focusing on problem-solving rather than personal grievances. Remind everyone that they are a part of a team and that we need each other to be successful. 
  6. Communicate Well & Avoid Conflict: Most issues come from poor or bad communication so choose your words, tone and timing well!

Let’s Wrap It Up

Navigating challenges and resolving conflicts are essential skills for any leader, especially fractional executives who must quickly integrate into new environments and deliver results. 

By embracing challenges, practicing empathy, and focusing on clear communication, you can turn obstacles into opportunities for growth and success. 

Enjoy the process!

Grow more. Risk Less


How I Can Help you Grow More & Risk Less

  1. Schedule a FREE Strategy Session
  2. Invest in your key leaders to grow your business with the 3P Bootcamp & Coaching Package 
  3. Business Owners get empowered to grow your business in the Strategic Growth Forum

    Are communication issues leading to conflict and loss of productivity in your business? HOLD helps business leaders and sales professionals leverage their communication skills to directly impact their bottom line. Contact Deb Porter today to start the conversation.