Monday, December 31, 2012

Cliffs, Difference, and Power

Today is New Year's Eve, and in the United States we're making plans for the big event. People are reaching out to one another, there's lots of conversation, and we're generally waiting with anticipation to see what 2013 will bring.

Sadly, the buzz has nothing to do with celebrating a new year, but instead has us caught up in the never ending melodrama that comes from Washington, D.C., this time focusing on the proverbial fiscal cliff.

The Real Story
It shouldn't come as a surprise to any of us in leadership (or any other part of life) that elected officials struggle mightily to get along. For years we are programmed to believe in ourselves, have confidence, stand up for what we believe in...etc...and then we become professionals and are expected to compromise, see the big picture, and do what's best for everyone.

That seems to me like a fairly sudden change of course.

So if we're raised to have a certain set of beliefs, yet the reality is that we can not get our own way all of the time, and must learn to compromise in order to be successful, why is it that we still struggle as leaders?

Accepting Difference
I believe that this private struggle that has a very public impact is all about difference. Overcoming the natural tendency to want our ideas to win out; or to push an idea forward simply because we don't want to be perceived as looking bad are not realistic strategies, nor quite honestly have they ever been. The workplace needs to embrace the different perspectives, ideas, experiences, and cultures that make our organizations unique.

Yes, some ideas are worth pursuing and others are not going to work. But until we stop talking and start listening to each other, it is unlikely that anything productive will get accomplished. You have the power to change the way differences are handled in your organization. You also have the power to reinforce the status quo through your inaction.

How About You
When was the last time you had to force yourself to stop and hear what a colleague was saying? What if their idea was something you were strongly opposed to...were you able to hear what they were saying instead of preparing your response while they were still talking? The power of difference...give it a try.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit


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