There’s a proverb that says, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down” (Proverbs 26:20). I talk a lot about being fearless, confronting people, and talking to people, not about them. I think that asking questions is a critical part of leadership, but there’s also prudence in knowing when not to talk, when not to be a “whisperer.” There are times when something is said or done inappropriately and you’re wise to confront that behavior in an appropriate and timely way. There are also times when it’s better to not add fuel to the fire. Maybe if we let things go, if we don’t whisper or talk to others, that will cause the contention to quiet down. Gossip is cancerous to an organization. Be a leader who doesn’t engage in gossip, and who confronts it head on. Gossip creates fuel for the fire. When it goes away, contention will quiet down. We want a peaceful organization! We want a dynamic organization, a team that’s not complacent, and we want to be moving forward. But contention is always dangerous and destructive. Anyone who is adding fuel to the fire needs to be confronted and challenged.
–Jim Wiginton is the founder and managing partner of Broad Insights, an international business coaching firm based in Greenville, South Carolina. Jim possesses a wealth of business expertise, much of it gained as an executive for Michelin North America, Plastic Omnium, and Alfmeier Corporation. He has more than 5,000 hours of coaching experience, and a Doctorate of Business Administration from Paris School of Business.