You may remember the quote from Cool Hand Luke, “some men you just can’t reach”. Being a person of true faith in human connections, this disposition made me feel hopeless. Until I started managing people…..
There are people who fit into the category of “uncoachable”. Usually these folks isolate themselves into obscurity and are ushered to the exit. We may all agree that the most frustrating part of Leadership is failing to help the uncoachable see the light. So, let’s examine this epidemic.
All the great things I have done as a professional have come from thinking differently. Unfortunately, it took me a while to fine tune the art of thinking differently. I used to define it as fighting the power. Over time, I came to realize that opposition only leads to discontent and an alternate solution can only be created by experience. In essence, those on the sidelines had no right to criticize the players unless they were willing to put on pads. How did I see the light?
We all have those pivotal conversations. Keith Ferrazzi recalls a conversation with a friend who told him that his narrow scope motivation was coming off as “inelegant”. In my case a good friend told me I was being an a-hole!!!! He explained that I had cut down every leadership branch extended my way. Whether an initiative made sense on the surface level, I opposed it, without relevant participation. I thought I was speaking on behalf of the team but they were watching me crash and burn. My hard work was dismissed as vigilant pessimism. Reality hit me when I realized my effort was met with rolling eyes because my mislead motivation was too transparent.
Ultimately the old adage hit me like a ton of bricks: You Got A Better Idea?
I adapted the following strategy:
- First try
- Identify potential areas of improvement
- Suggest enhancements
The Art of Following Directions
The best way to keep your temperament in check is to pick your battles. I know it seems simplistic but your boss has directives too. You cannot oppose anything in an educated manner without first taking part in the proposed process. If you have a real life case study to present it comes off much better than just bitching about something.
Just The Facts
Have you ever asked for something and been denied? This is probably an affect of 2 things: The buyer wants to ensure you have the facts in place or he/she is testing your resolve. Show me the metrics before you ask for the money.
Do your homework and have a solution in mind. If you have the stats and a story to back it up you put yourself in the seat of potential advisor (not disruptor).
So you have tried the half baked organizational objective, have real evidence why the idea is not pertinent, and now for the better idea.
This is what separates the malcontent from the truly invested. Here’s your shot: draw up the play. One thing you can be sure of is that original thinking is at a premium in most organizations. This is because the creative minds traditionally don’t think strategically. They have a great idea but fail to package it in a way that is meaningful to their audience. It’s sexy, but how it will help me?
I am willing to bet the organizational directives you oppose are opposed by those who unwillingly present them to you. They just need a reason to explain why the directive sucks. So we come to find out that we are actually on the same team as that person we adamantly oppose. We learn that they, like us, have marching orders. We understand that the boss is throwing these things at us in-as-much to dispel the idea than to adopt it. The opportunity to try out the plan, shoot holes in it, and come up with something better is a badge of honor (not an albatross).
All this time, the person who you thought was your worst enemy is actually your greatest cheerleader. You just have to do your part…and prove it!
Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!