Think about the number of issues that should have been addressed but instead are undiscussed and unresolved. How much time do you invest in talking with like-minded people about the issue? How much time do you spend dancing around the top of the issue, keeping it surface-level and safe? That’s the beginning of your debt. Now let’s compound that interest with a few failures to prioritize important strategic imperatives for the organization, tolerating bad behavior and ignoring people who have insufficient skills. Your debt is growing as quickly as a credit card with a high interest rate!

Time to pay down the debt? Think about creating a connection first. Solving the conflict is where you are headed, and your monthly payments are investments in the person. Be sure to validate the person (not the performance — that’s appreciation, not validation), and normalize the tension and discomfort in learning and growing through feedback and skill development. Communicate, articulate, and elevate your attention to the person and their growth. That will allow room for the unresolved to be cured, the skills to be developed, and the failures to be addressed as growth opportunities. Oh, and you diminish your debt!