Watch for the Friction Points

Do you notice that in important endeavors friction points emerge?

These points often become evident when there is great emotion attached to what might be an otherwise typical event. The range of emotions I have seen when people are trapped in friction points range across a whole spectrum including anger, confusion, frustration, or just plain refusal to accept the facts.

Friction points are where needs, or dreams, meet implementation reality. The friction points becomes much hotter based on the discrepancy between the intensity of need versus how difficult the implementation reality is.

Any leader I have worked with has faced this personally in something just as simple as planning their week. They want to, nay, NEED to accomplish 100 things in a week. And then in day one they find they only accomplish one thing and 10 new urgent things have emerged. Trapped in that point where needs and realities diverge.

As a leader, you are often putting individuals and teams into these situations whether you mean to or not. To achieve exceptional leadership, you must be able to do the following three things.

  • Recognize the friction points for what they are. Too many leaders mistake the emotional responses to be people not following directions or people arguing with the goals. Your job is to step back and recognize the problem for what it is.
  • Transform the heat of the friction points into innovation. Give people the time and space to figure out innovative solutions. When things are really hot, provide expert help to transform the situation into one that grows solutions and team skills. (And yes, that is my speciality!)
  • Accept that friction points are good things when led properly. I never really expect to see complete harmony in an organization. Exceptional leaders are looking for exceptional results. There will be friction!

Hold up that high bar. Watch for the friction points. Transform the heat into something amazing!

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,
ALAN WILLETT