Welcome to the New Year! After a holiday season full of industry parties, networking events, family gatherings and a general slow-down of business, it might feel good to just get back to work and a regular schedule. It’s also a great time to look back, particularly the month before the holiday season began, and contemplate what needs to change in order for this year to be more fulfilling. Sometimes that can be a long list, and it undoubtedly can create some tension and anxiety – especially when it’s related to changing the dynamic between people and situations. Use these actionable leadership development coaching tips as you create powerful change in 2017.
Sure, changing your perspective includes seeing things from the other person’s point of view and, hopefully, finding enlightenment through empathy for the other person. That’s healthy and a necessary step. After that, however, we want to take that empathy and use it to deal with the situation differently. It’s the ability to shift gears and come at a problem from a different angle that sets leaders apart from the rest.
Not too long ago I worked with a client who was very young. She was in her 20’s and looking for direction on how she could make the most of the first few months straight out of school. She had already secured a great job as a sales analyst, but struggled with the interpersonal conflict that surfaced almost immediately with an older colleague. Obviously, my client was ambitious. She knew exactly what she wanted right away, and also wanted to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, it was pretty easy for anyone with more experience to push her buttons and test her resolve. She was young, inexperienced and passionate.
In our leadership development coaching sessions, we worked to understand this other person’s point of view. It was becoming clear to my client that this person felt threatened by her ambition, resentful of her creative contributions, and angry at the lack of progress in his own career. Because he had seniority on the team, it was easy for him to create conflict as a way to take my client down a peg and slow her progress.
It’s easy to feel victimized in high conflict situations. You’ll certainly ask yourself what you did to bring this on and wonder what you could do differently. By taking this narrative, however, you chip away at your power in the situation, especially if the consequence is allowing the other person to continue to undermine your work or make you miserable. On the other hand, if we shift the power dynamic by adjusting our own attitude, we can diffuse these types of situations without sacrificing our position. The best way to do this is to push back in a way that shows you are unaffected by the behavior.
For my client, she actually said these words to her troublesome colleague, “I’m not sure why you are angry with me but your anger is your problem. Not mine. I’m happy to have a constructive conversation with you but I will not tolerate you demeaning me in front of other people anymore.”
It was risky, but effective, especially because it fit her personality. By communicating that she was no longer going to be affected by this issue, she also took back her power and changed the dynamic between them. For those of us who are not quite so passionate, saying something simple like, “Thankfully, I don’t get rattled easily so I expect us to find a way forward because this cannot continue to happen,” works really well, also.
Sometimes all it takes for us to lift ourselves out of a difficult situation is to take a step back, reassess the situation, evaluate where the power sits, and then adjust our attitude and approach in order to get to a better place.
To get started, take some time to answer the following two questions:
Make an effort to really think through the questions using the process above, and go as deep and detailed as you can. As an added bonus, don’t forget to download your free workbook below to get your year started on the right foot.
Here’s to an empowered New Year!