As leaders we get to be a part of a lot of awesome different things. We get to hang out our volunteers, get to hear stories of life change and put on services. As leaders we have to do a lot of things we don’t enjoy as much. One of those things is having hard conversations. Whether it is with other staff members, students or volunteers, leaders need to conduct healthy but tough conversations to help push things forward.

Here is what I noticed:

You have to have them – If you want to follow what the Bible has to say, read Matthew 18 and what it says about having conflict. It’s amazing to me how many people just want to skip this whole process. Jesus did not shy away from uncomfortable conversations. As uncomfortable as they can be what I can promise you is if you don’t have them, it will only get worse.

You have to do them well – Jesus also handled them well. Too many hard conversations are not handled well. As leaders we are needing not only to have hard conversations with people, but we are called to handle them well. A great leader can walk though tough situations with authority, love and grace all at the same time. Too many times we can allow our emotions get in the way of letting tough conversations happen in a healthy way. How you handle these conversation can make or break your students or volunteers. How you handle them will determine if they feel like they can trust you for future advice and it will affect their perception of you as a leader. But, doing them well will only set you up better in the future.

You have to follow-up – Yes, you had the talk. Awesome. Now follow-up and circle back around and smooth over any rough edges it may have caused. There are always some. Whenever I must have “that talk” with some disruptive students, I always pull them aside after service and follow-up with them. It always seems to disarm them a little bit more now we were not in that moment. The end goal should always be reconciliation.

Having these conversations are not fun, but when handled well, everyone wins.