It was a tense moment. They were face to face and each had a different opinion about the huge decision that was before them. These twenty-something entrepreneurs, who are partners, were in a serious disagreement. I watched, listened and learned. They alternated talking and listening to one another. While the conversation was direct, it was on topic and not driven out of emotion. They realized that the issue would not be resolved with one conversation and committed to keep the communication lines open for further dialogue. Eventually, they landed on an agreement that was satisfactory for both partners.

While they possessed very different views, I observed the partners demonstrating active listening, mutual respect and an authentic desire to come to a resolution. I was impressed with how they were determined to remain engaged in the process until a decision was agreed upon. It was not easy, and required time and skill. These leaders had learned how to handle conflict and they executed with incredible excellence.

The good news is that we can all learn to handle conflict in an effective way. The bad news is that many leaders do not invest the effort to learn and practice those skills.

These entrepreneurs are clearly leading with skill beyond their years. No matter what our age or station in life, choosing to develop the skill to navigate hard conversations will make a difference.

- Larry