Leadership Conversations over Coffee- Reflective Conversations

One reason I called the website and blog, a cup of leadership is because of the fact that leadership happens in small conversations. Conversations that could take place over the amount of time it takes to drink a cup of coffee.

One type of conversation is internal. Yes, we really do talk to ourselves.  I know, we don't want to admit it but we might as well make those conversations strategic instead of crazy making babble.  Let's call this kind of conversation, a reflective conversation. 

What do you  (the leader) bring to the conversation?  Two things: A problem and a willingness to see that there is a solution even though the solution is a mystery currently. 

State the problem (you can write it if you are alone or say it out loud if you don't mind being seen as crazy.  Or you are with a trusted advisor)

{A colleague creating drama in the workplace}

Margo, who you met in a previous post, brought the problem of a colleague; let’s call him Harry, who was creating drama in the workplace. It is helpful to know that when we see drama in the workplace or anywhere really, it is really fear.  So Margo and I analyzed the question: “What does Harry fear?” We concluded that in this situation Harry was experiencing fear because his job role was changing from what it used to be.  He was being asked to focus more on operations and let go of his role of supplier relations.  That role was now being handled by Margo’s department from a corporate perspective vs. a plant perspective. You get the picture of the drama that was unfolding in her work.  Anyone working in an organization has probably been in a similar situation. 

Possible solution- Because Harry is experiencing fear; his actions are spreading fear to others.  Margo was experiencing this fear as defensiveness.  She naturally wanted to get the him to change. 

When we are feeling this way, we think, “If only ____ would do ___, my life would be easy.” Getting another person to do anything is never an option. That is the reason true leadership first takes place over conversations instead of commands, emails, or power plays which just continue to spread fear. People who use their fear to create drama usually get what they think they want:  power. 

Since the possible solution is not changing the other person.  Sorry, no magic wands allowed here.  There are two choices:

1.  Fire the person. 

2.  Negotiate with the person from a grounded perspective. 

Both choices are not easy.  Firing the person isn’t always an option. In Margo’s case she was not Harry’s manager, she was the leader of a department that was charged with taking away some of his work. 

Negotiating from a grounded perspective requires personal development. You may not be able to negotiate from a grounded perspective the first time you realize it is the best choice. You will probably fail but if you keep trying you will master it.

Margo had done a tremendous amount of personal reflection in the past, but still had a bit of reflection to do to stay with the problem in a grounded way.  Her first response was to say, “I don’t have time for this.” 

True, none of us has time for drama, but the only way out is to neutralize the drama. Because of her past work of daily meditation, which physically opens a person to being present with the problem at hand, she was able to quickly return to a grounded perspective. She decided that she would approach Harry from a different perspective. Instead of ignoring what Harry was saying, she would acknowledge the content of what was being said and then make a request.

I will let you know how this plays out, but in the meantime, what would you do?  Would your choice spread more drama around like a boomerang?   Please share if you think you have an effective solution.