This phrase originally comes from a friend of mine who used it in reference to dealing with the hard decisions in life and business. The ‘Hard Right’ refers to making the tough decision to do what is right in a situation or confronting an issue in a relationship which is just not easy, rather than taking the easy option which isn’t usually the right one…

As examples; it could be when you have to give a colleague or subordinate feedback about behaviour or performance, which you know is going to get a negative reaction.  When you have to  make a decision that you know will be largely unpopular with other people or it could be having that conversation where you speak honestly about your desire to move on from a relationship that has now become toxic, etc.

Often these ‘Hard Right’ decisions can effect our own ability to perform, as the way we handle them can have a positive or negative effect on our energy flow and motivation.  When we find it tough to make a ‘Hard Right’, it can manifest in some of the following ways:

  • Procrastination in tasks
  • Procrastination in dealing with people
  • Confusion and mental gymnastics
  • Avoidance of people and certain conversations
  • Draining of our energy and higher stress levels
  • Mental distraction and mental clutter
  • Loss of respect from those around us who see us floundering
  • Creating a worse situation down the road
  • Gossip and rumours, as opposed to confronting the individual in the situation and moving on
  • Creating a permissive authority perception and weakness within a team by trying to keep everyone happy
  • Being negatively effected by an individuals behaviour, whom you are too scared to be honest with

Quite a list wouldn’t you agree?   I am sure you could add a whole lot more to this list if you thought about it.

The key lesson here for us is about the leadership characteristics that we need to display to create the type of energy and momentum that helps us make a ‘Hard Right’ decision.

When we have some of these ‘Hard Rights’ to make we may respond in the following 3 ways:

1. Go into denial – pretend it doesn’t exist, procrastinate, avoidance and give ourselves excuses why we don’t have to deal with it. (Major performance inhibitor)

2. Deal with it –  But deal with it poorly.   The bull at the gate approach leaving a trail of carnage behind us.  (Creating the wrong energy around us)

3. Have a level of awareness of our emotional process and develop a thinking and a behaviour that navigates  through to a successful conclusion. (Easier said than done!)

This is a two fold aspect of people and personal leadership. In other words how we lead ourselves and lead other people.

So are there any easy ways to take a Hard Right as a leader?

Well I am not sure if there is an easy way but we sure can make it easier.  I have listed some helpful strategies below:

Stage 1:  Learn to Recognise The Possible Signs That You Are Struggling With a Hard Right

Here are some possible things to watch out for:

  • Signs of procrastination..in otherwords you start making excuses for inaction in dealing with an individual or making a decision
  • If you feel your motivation drop or you seem to be tired and not in your normal energy flow, ask yourself why and reflect on the possible cause
  • Learn to pick up any emotions that make you feel insecure or uncomfortable in a situation or with certain people and you find yourself pulling back, or you find it more difficult to say what you really feel
  • The opposite reaction from the last point, you find your self being aggressive or in attack mode.  This is also a good sign that we are not handling a Hard Right as best we could.
  • Perhaps you catch yourself banging on to other people about an individual in a negative way but you know deep down you have no intention of confronting the individual.

Stage 2: Develop a Prioritised Plan

This can be simple or more complex depending on the situation.  The first step is to give yourself a time frame to deal with it.  Normally I would suggest no longer than 24 hours otherwise you risk the ongoing distraction and energy drain.

Plan it into your day to keep yourself accountable.  I find when I have to make a Hard Right I put it into my diary ,the phone call or the meeting, email etc and then I often find it easier to follow through as this lends itself to my desire for task completion. This may be different for you so perhaps find a way to make yourself accountable that works for you.

Stage 3: Execute Based on the Reward of Feeling Free

The ability and motivation to execute a ‘Hard Right’ in my experience, has more to do with developing an internal value and commitment that it is not healthy to hang on to negative emotions or indecision for too long.   Any negative or nagging feeling that is causing distraction to you will always effect other areas of your ability to perform as a leader.  Even if you are good at sending it to the back of your mind it takes energy to keep it there.  If it keeps coming to surface every now and then even after a longer period, it normally means we need to make a decision to bring closure to it.

For example someone who may have wronged you and you just let it slide, but you notice if someone brings them up or you think about them all these emotions rise up and you may feel a little angry or flat.  Well maybe send them an email or tell them how you feel face to face if that is appropriate.  It is amazing how releasing an action like that can be.

I recently contacted an old business associate of mind which probably didn’t end so great and I am talking this was 9 years ago…  I wrote him an email because I found he kept coming up in mind over the years and it brought a lot of mixed emotions.  The response I got to this email probably wasn’t what I expected as they obviously still were holding on to a lot of pain.  What this did give me was the opportunity to take responsibility for my part in it and apologise for any hurt I had caused.  The result, I felt a lot lighter and it brought closure to something that was left unfinished.  How long had that negative energy been sitting there inside of me nagging me every now and then.  I wonder how much that effected my performance at times as it brought up certain feelings that must of had some level of effect on me.

So the suggestion I can bring to this third stage to get you acting on your feelings is;  realise that this will have a greater negative effect on me if I don’t deal with it.

It is a known fact that psychologists who have researched the effect on stress on the human body will say there is a lot less emotional stress on the body dealing with something decisively than burying it and not confronting it.  It is true that often a confrontation can seem to have a higher charge and release of emotions in the moment but once a charge has been released it is then discharged and not stored.  In fact that is why stress can lead to sickness as it releases chemicals into the body which have a detremental effect if stored away.

So the major incentive here is to deal with it properly and take a ‘Hard Right.’ This will produce the reward of experiencing emotional freedom and the ability to move on, which inturn helps you get back into a more positive energy flow, resulting in higher levels of performance.

Anyway, I trust you have found some of my thoughts useful and practical. Look out for my Next Post “Taking the Hard Right in Leadership – Part 2 Where we focus on Leadership Character issues.

To your continued success,

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P.S. If you have some examples of hard right decisions you’ve had to make and some helpful strategies that could be useful to others please leave your thoughts in the comments section below this post.


Influencing Skills