In today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) work environment, the potential for pain can be high despite the best intentions of good leaders and the actions of misguided or unprepared leaders. Stuff happens, it’s not addressed and people start to carry around a heavy load of pain and frustration.
For me the way through that is an inner journey of forgiveness which sets us free and is completely in our control. Forgiveness is a choice to recognize that those who have hurt us are human, they make mistakes, and that hanging onto our anger and sense of “what’s fair” just keeps us stuck.
Reconciliation, while powerful, is a nice to have but because it involves communication between people is messy and complicated. Often it’s simply not possible because one party isn’t willing to do so. And if you reconcile without forgiveness you live in anticipation of the next “hurt”, an uneasy and fragile space to occupy.
Waiting for an I’m sorry or for someone to hold the offender accountable, or to reconcile with someone who’s not willing or able sucks the life out of us. Forgiveness, while indeed challenging, breathes life into us.
And it is a choice we can make at any time.
In complex human interactions, leading with intent facilitates possibility. Hanging onto specific outcomes encourages defensiveness or stonewalling.
I have spent a fair bit of time recently working with people who don’t hold senior positions in their organizations and inevitably, the conversation comes up about how to influence without authority. That, together with a new course on the same topic, has prompted me to come up with a model. It’s brought together a number of ideas I believe about leading from wherever you are. The stage that people seem to struggle with the most is 2 – embracing the world of the other, probably because in a lot of cases the people who we most need to influence are quite different from us and it can be difficult to understand vs judge the other’s world.
The other phase is 5, in particular when to let go. Being overly attached to a particular outcome and not knowing when to let go and move on keeps people stuck and feeling powerless.
1. Know yourself
- Your strengths
- Your sources of power
- Manage your ego and triggers
2. Embrace the world of the other
- Assume all are potential partners
- Walk in the other’s shoes
- Understand what matters most to them
3. Know your priorities
- Must have vs nice to have
- Short or long term
- Task or relationship
4. Build trust and relationships
- Understand and live your values
- Be transparent
- Build a wide and diverse network
5. Influence through give and take
- Leave people with a positive impression
- Give more than you take
- Know when to let go
The final speaker at last week’s Shareshop hosted by Michele Breuer of the Victoria Executive Centre was Doug Kerr who spoke about negotiation. I was particularly struck by the idea that we need to move beyond what’s “obvious” or “available” to what’s possible. Taking time to learn more about people and considering creative solutions are at the heart of good negotiations.