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Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: Improving Relationships

shaking-hands

Ever witnessed a child being told they must share their toys with another child? Their reaction to this news wasn’t too pretty, was it?

Although we’ve grown to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around us and we don’t always get our way, that small child’s voice is still inside us, protesting whenever things don’t go how we want them to.

But the truth is, in order to lead in any real sense of the word, you must learn the art of making compromises. It’s easy to say that, and I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but how do you actually do it?

1. Express yourself fully, and listen intently. Explain your reasoning behind your viewpoint. Often our views are skewed by our emotions, which make it harder to make effective decisions. Articulating your view to another person forces you to take a good long look at your position, and in many cases this allows you to see where your view may not be perfect. By the same token, listen to what the other person is actually saying, not what you think they’re saying. Hear them out before you rush to judgment. Open communication is crucial to getting things done.

2. Think from the other person’s perspective. If it continues to be difficult for you to accept the other person’s position, do your best to put yourself in their shoes. What’s the reasoning behind their thoughts, ideas, and opinions? Even if you disagree, can you see why they hold these views?

3. Be committed to results. Compromising pushes two opposing viewpoints past a gridlock into a region where they can move from ideas into actions. In this way, compromise is one of the most powerful tools we have to getting results. A compromise is a mature way of acknowledging that we can never fully get what we want all of the time, but we can get more of what we want if we work together to achieve it.

4. Be prepared to be disappointed, but give it time. At first, you’ll only see what you didn’t get out of a compromise. This is understandable, but don’t give up on it just yet. In the longterm, compromising pays off for both parties, as you’ve established an alliance and proven to one another that you are capable of working together and taking steps forward.

Have a great week!

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time to adapt

I once collaborated on a project with a few people from my department. We all had different areas of expertise, so we relied on each other equally in order to get it off the ground.

The problem was, our visions of not only how we were going to execute the project, but what the project even looked like, were all over the board. It took weeks of frustrating debate just to come to an agreement on the project itself.

Then, there was the tug-of-war between us at every step of the process. One person wanted to draft specific, detailed assignments for each of us to follow verbatim. Since a few of us worked better in a more fluid, open style, that became a point of contention. Another member of the team insisted we meet in person multiple times a week, while there was one individual who thrived working on her own time.

Of course, we eventually got the job done. Once we had time to settle down and look back on the project, we admitted we could have all been more flexible.

It’s easy to get tunnel vision in situations like these. So easy, in fact, that I’ve witnessed the calmest, most professional leaders become almost hysterical when they’re in the middle of a collaborative project. Why is this?

I think it’s mainly due to pride. When we have a task before us, we all visualize how the end result will look, which is very necessary. But we unintentionally force our personal vision onto everyone else, even when we’re unaware that we’re doing it.

Think of a time when you resisted a suggestion from someone in a collaborative situation. I’m willing to bet that your resistance to their suggestion wasn’t necessarily because it was a bad idea. I’ll go so far as to say you objected because deep down, you were convinced that your vision was inherently better than theirs.

This is where the tunnel vision happens. Assuming that you have the better vision, you are unwilling/unable to truly give their idea a fair chance. Often, you’ll realize after the fact that they actually had a great idea, and you may scratch your head and wonder, “Why didn’t I see that at the time?”

The remedy? Remind yourself every step of the way that your vision isn’t inherently perfect. Remind yourself that you are one person, working in a team. Listen to your collaborators. Accept that the product won’t ever be exactly as you envision it. Allow yourself to change your mind and see alternatives.

The good news: having this skill enhances your end product. Flexibility leads to innovation and dynamic results well past what you expected. This is because the ability to be flexible unleashes the awesome power of collaborative work between many talented minds.

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t1larg.working.mom

These past few weeks I’ve been attending quite a lot of weddings. It seems couples have wisely planned their wedding days around the time Minnesota has (finally!) given us some much-needed warm weather.

I love weddings, and it’s been a privilege to participate in the Big Days of young folks I’ve known from all corners of my life. But these past couple of weeks have made me think two, very related thoughts:

1. I’m busy as it is with my work–toss a few weddings in the mix and things can get hectic real quick.

2. Weddings are the platform from which two people jump off into a new life together. A big part of this is learning to balance and sustain their personal lives and their careers.

I’ve found that there tend to be periods of relative calm in my life, where my biggest concern is keeping myself from being bored. And then, all at once, life throws ten things at me and I’m scrambling to stay afloat.

If you’re a parent, you know that life doesn’t relent just because you’re tired or overworked. Kids still need feeding, dishes need doing, and that stack of work on your desk isn’t going to magically disappear. So it’s important to your sanity and quality of life that you develop a work flow that keeps things manageable.

Here’s how:

1. Take advantage of downtime. It’s easy to sit back and idle the engine, to use a car metaphor, when work and home life relents and you find yourself with an open schedule. But you can’t take a car from first gear to fifth. The engine just can’t handle that big of a transition. In the same way, if you relax too much during the lulls, it makes it that much more difficult to be ready to perform your best when things begin to pile up. So, use downtime to prepare for the next onslaught. It’ll keep you productive when there’s not much going on, and it’ll make things much easier for you when things get busy.

2. Focus on one task at a time. Here’s a post I wrote about the myth of multitasking. It may feel like you’re able to get more done faster, but in reality you aren’t.

3. Prioritize. Your family should be number one on your priority list, and if they aren’t, perhaps you should reevaluate what is most important in your life.

4. Learn to say no. You can’t do everything that people ask of you. There’ll be some projects at work you’ll have to pass up in order to spend time with your family. Similarly, there’ll be family activities that won’t mesh with your work schedule. After prioritizing, you’ll know what to turn down and what to take on.

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