If you have ever bathed children you know the risk. It's just a matter of time until your kid is peeing in the fresh water of the bath. Regardless the amount of soap you add urine has destroyed that clean water. You immediately pull the plug to drain the bath and refill it with clean water.
I officially hate myself for doing a Google image search for "peeing in the bath."
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Have you ever been in a room full of leaders and someone decides to pee in the bath? What I mean is someone destroys a fresh conversation. What began as a time for solutions is now a time for complaining and forecasting failure, there are too many obstacles to create change or do something new. From that point forward, no matter how much we try to do something new, acid is floating in the conversation.
What do you do as the leader in this situation? What do you do when you're participating in the negative and not leading the conversation towards change? What if you're the one peeing in the bath!?
1. You have to drain the bath - Stop the conversation and remind everyone (or yourself) that this is an attempt at new. New is either an opportunity to make something better or start from scratch. So whatever has been holding everyone back needs to stay behind. Time to move forward.
2. Refill the bath - Remind everyone (or yourself) of "why". As my good friend Chris recently reminded me that without the "why" people won't focus on the "what" and "when". Bring everyone back to "why" they are all there, fill their "bath" back up with clean, hopeful water. They are creative, problem solving leaders. They're the best, tell them to act like it, not kids who can't control their stream.
3. You have to play in the bath - I used to know this leader who would ask us, "If we're not having fun, than what are we doing?" If you have a bunch of griping people on your hands you're not playing enough. Experience will trump obstacles every time, that includes people having fun will see less obstacles. This applies to the art of leading conversations as well. Figure out how to make the conversation more enjoyable.