Many years ago I attended a leadership workshop in Atlanta that forced me to take a stand. I was a young executive in the corporate world. Eager to learn.
In one exercise, the instructor told participants to walk around the room in groups of three.
The person in the middle of the group was expected to talk about something very important to them while walking with the two other people–one on each side.
Could be an idea, cause or point of view.
The people on each side were told to make negative, unsupportive or critical comments about that idea as the middle person was talking.
I was the middle person. Walking around a room filled with noise trying to be heard isn’t easy, especially listening to negative comments in each ear.
It makes you want to speak louder. At one point, I was yelling!
The exercise was frustrating, but it helped me practice articulating ideas with more conviction than I had before. And it prepared me for those negative voices that creep into your head.
Those voices often come from people who are reflecting their own fears, insecurities, or lack of awareness. The criticism or push-back may come from people who feel threatened in some way.
Sometimes the most disempowering voices are self-generated.
As you grow in your leadership, it’s natural to feel forces working against you.
When this happens, know it’s not about you. People project what’s going on inside themselves.
Many executives I serve have strong convictions they are trying to express.
They want to bring about important change in their organization or team. But they don’t know how to do it.
Some have tried to “push” people through change (which never works). The determined leaders get louder and more forceful…and more frustrated.
If you’re frustrated, that can actually be a good thing. It means you really care. Your commitment to being a change agent is evident.
Don’t raise your voice. Raise your awareness.
Start by listening.
Let people know they are heard, really heard.
Not through surveys, but through conversations.
You can’t mandate positive change. It’s facilitated through inquiry.
Get curious about the people involved in the process. Understand their needs and wants.
You’ll inspire change more easily.
PS: We’ve been working on some exciting projects to help executives who are transforming their organizations. Let us know if we can be of help to you.
If we have not met, I’d be happy to introduce you to WorkMatters services. Please contact me.