Published July 13, 2023
Blog Archive

Embracing Difficult Conversations: A Path to Effective Leadership


Dr. K here, checking in to discuss a topic that frequently arises in leadership: difficult conversations. We all know that these conversations are never easy, whether they involve addressing issues with time management, interpersonal dynamics, or overall productivity. Today, I want to emphasize the importance of not shying away from these challenging discussions, whether in a professional or personal context. Avoiding difficult conversations may provide temporary relief, but in the long run, it can have detrimental effects on our teams, the individuals impacted by someone’s work, and even our own growth as leaders. So, let’s explore why embracing these conversations is crucial for fostering a positive and productive environment.

The Consequences of Avoidance

When we choose to avoid difficult conversations, we inadvertently allow problems to persist and potentially worsen over time. By neglecting to address issues such as performance concerns or problematic behavior, we hinder the growth and development of our teams. Just like in the role of a parent, if we avoid having hard conversations with our children, they miss out on learning opportunities and struggle to improve. As leaders, our primary goal is to help individuals become the best versions of themselves, both professionally and personally. By postponing difficult conversations, we not only hinder their progress but also compromise our ability to coach and guide them effectively.

The Role of Effective Leadership

Being a good leader means stepping up to difficult conversations, even when they are uncomfortable or challenging. It requires us to confront issues head-on, provide constructive feedback, and offer support when needed. These conversations are an essential part of creating a culture of growth and accountability within our teams. When we engage in open and honest dialogue, we enable individuals to address their shortcomings, learn from their mistakes, and make positive changes. Additionally, difficult conversations allow us to recognize when someone may not be the right fit for a particular role or team, which is a necessary step in fostering a high-performing and harmonious work environment.

Starting the Conversation

If you find yourself uncertain about how to approach difficult conversations, there are resources available to guide you. One valuable resource is the book “Curiosity-Based Leadership Questions,” which offers insights into initiating engaging conversations. Opening up a dialogue with curiosity and empathy can help create a safe space for individuals to express themselves and work towards improvement. By asking thoughtful questions and actively listening, we demonstrate our commitment to their growth and well-being.


Difficult conversations are an integral part of effective leadership. Avoiding them may offer temporary relief, but it ultimately hampers the growth and development of individuals and teams. As leaders, it is our responsibility to initiate and navigate these conversations with empathy, openness, and a genuine desire to help others become the best versions of themselves. By embracing difficult conversations, we create a culture of accountability, growth, and continuous improvement. Remember, postponing these conversations does not align with being a good leader. So, let us step up, have those challenging discussions, and foster an environment where everyone can thrive. If you have any questions or need further insights, feel free to reach out. Until next time, take care and lead with courage.

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Kristine Medyanik

Dr. Kristine Medyanik has been teaching business and psychology classes, for many years. She started Shattered Glass Leadship to offer boutique-style workshops that provide expert content to “level up” your daily leadership practice. She has an amazing husband and 3 growing boys and works hard to support local women-owned small businesses.