The challenge: pivot despite your ego or reputation.
A client of mine related a situation that gave a perfect example of the power of pivoting and how important adaptability is in leadership. She was working with a group that was very strong in their opinions regarding shift assignments and how it was affecting department productivity. They knew her opinions and she knew theirs. Thus, as they came together, both were ready for a tense meeting. The meeting started in the expected way, with some of the group leaders making their points strongly and well supported. As she listened my client realized there were points being made that were new to her. She moved forward in her chair a bit and started to take notes and ask more questions. As she got more information, she realized that her position was no longer as valid as it had been just a few minutes before. When the time came for her to express her views, she basically did a 180. The impressive part for me is that she personifies ’no ego’ leadership. She truly believes in the concept of ’not important who is right, but what is right’.
Was the ‘other side’ in the room taken back? Absolutely! Was she seen as a weak leader since she changed her point of view? Quite to the contrary. The reaction from the other participants was enthusiastic and resulted in them dropping their ‘us vs them’ mentality, since it wasn’t necessary any more. She had diffused the situation by solely listening, learning new information, and changing course when that was obviously the route to take.
We often see leadership in a theoretical sense, thinking, “Oh yeah. That would probably work in their team, but not in mine”. That’s a dangerous thought. Leadership is not a place to make excuses. This leader took in key aspects such as listening long enough to hear other opinions, not just for the show of it, but to actually figure out where they were coming from. Truly gathering information.
There was enough of a foundation of trust established before the meeting that it was possible for her to ask question without walls and barricades going up from the opposing view. Don’t have those foundations? Build them.
This is leadership. This is an every day situation that each of you come in contact with. Multiple “us vs. them” battles, that can quickly defuse through listening, assessing, asking further questions and being big enough to surrender to a better “right”, even if it wasn’t yours.
Have a great weekend!