A leader can easily find themselves in three states of mind; convicted, conflicted, or confused. Your situation may shift between the three. Each new day brings new tests and tough decisions that have to be made. In which state of mind do you usually operate?
In this context, when I use the word convicted, I am not talking about the criminal sense. The detective Lenny Briscoe on Law and Order once famously quipped when asked about his marital status “Two priors and no convictions”. That would be the legal definition.
No, convicted here means a sense of purpose. You hold a conviction about a matter. You are dedicated to the cause. You are firm in a belief. That is conviction.
People of faith find conviction in aligning with the calling of their faith. You hear them say “I am convicted to follow this principle”.
Leaders can and should be convicted about the purpose of their role, their position, and their duty. A leader without conviction of purpose is not much of a leader at all. With lack of conviction, you can be swayed from moment to moment.
Conviction can give us confidence. It becomes the core from which you operate. Maybe it’s a set of principles, not just one idea. Either way conviction gives meaning and direction. It fuels the vision leaders are supposed to have.
Being conflicted should be pretty easy to understand. You hear people say “I am torn about this subject”. Conflict suggest two sides competing for the outcome. War is euphemistically called a conflict.
At work, being conflicted means you can see both sides of an issue, but simply do not have a strong opinion one way or the other. That is a dangerous condition for a leader to be in.
Admitting to being conflicted may communicate a sense of empathy for one side or the other, but it is not a place a leader can stay for long. Decisions need to be made.
Resolving conflict requires information and analysis. Maybe it requires coaching or mentoring. Staying in conflict over a topic, whether internal to one’s self or external with the team, is not a good condition at all.
Clearly this may be the worse of all mindsets. Simply being confused means you don’t get it. You have been overrun by the facts and circumstances. Or maybe you just cannot comprehend the situation.
Confusion is ok for a little while so that you can sort out the details. However, confusion for an extended period of time often becomes chaos. When the team that reports to you sense the confusion, they will resort to their own values and answers.
Where are you?
What is your mindset right now? Are you confused? Do you need help with the details?
Or are you conflicted, trying to choose a side?
Better still, are you convicted about the purpose and direction? Can you stand firm, moving your team toward a goal, inspiring their effort all along the way?
Think about these three mindsets. You may vacillate across all three from week to week as things change. As you grow into your role as a leader, you should move across this spectrum to more routinely reside in conviction, being distracted by fewer conflicts of ideas, and seldom confused about what you need to be doing.
If that progress is not happening for you, it may be time to seek a coach or ask a mentor for input. Just know that leaders do in fact experience all three. The key question though is how long you stay in one frame or the other.
Question: Share your thoughts on which state you may be operating in right now. You can leave a comment by clicking here.