In my Ebook "Intentional leadership" I share many different behaviours that make up great leaders. One of the most valuable character traits, in my opinion, is the ability to get along with others. This is easier said than done. Why? Because most people are concerned about being right and looking good. This is normal, but I can almost guarantee that the person who takes the high road and focuses on collaborating rather than the outcome gets further and creates more opportunities in work and life. How do I know? Because I have practiced this for years while leading teams and working cross-functionally with other departments. And the way we all move forwards is due to the ability to get along and form positive partnerships.
Leadership can be something we demonstrate in our personal lives as well as at work. It is something that at a young age I was interested in but never had conversations around this with my parents, so as a parent I want to be sure to pass my insights on to my children. Sometimes they listen and other times they don't but last night was one of those rare evenings where I took my 15-year-old son (snap above) out for dinner, who is currently living in the US attending high school and following his passion, basketball.
And yes that is his face when I talk to him in general, he looks like you might convince him… but what do I know I am just a grown up and he's 15!
We talked about many things his grades the family he lives with and his most recent experience as a football player. His school provided a scholarship for him to play basketball but also encouraged him to play another sport which was entirely new to him. Football was a game that I never imagined him playing, but he discovered he loved it. However, he only got to play in a few games this season, and I naturally assumed it was because he was new to the team.
Last night at dinner I learned that was not the case, and that it had nothing to do with his skill level as he is the second-best wide receiver ( whatever that means?) on the team.
The reason he didn't get to play was due to his attitude. He shared that towards the end of the season he got to play a few games and how much he loved it!
So being the mum that I am, I asked him what he had learned through this experience? His normal 15-year-old self-said "the coaches are stupid, why would they not play one of their best and lose just because of my attitude."
And here is what came next...Welcome to life lesson one:
1. Attitudes influence how people perceive you and choose to help you.
Unless you are the owner of your own business and an entrepreneur your ability to succeed at any given task may depend on others. And I would say that even if you do work for yourself at some point, you will interact with others when you are doing your banking, potentially hiring your team or also working with clients. You could be the most brilliant person, but without others knowing this, it will be mighty tricky to reach your goals. Sitting on the bench is not helping his team at all. He got this and agreed!
2. The desire to be right cannot be stronger than the desire to get along.
Winning the argument will not win others hearts. I learned this from someone a while back. If winning the case is more important to you then good luck with relationships. At work and in your personal life this matters. He said "I would make a good Lawyer" lol. Yes indeed but even lawyers need judges to like them.
3. Take the word YOU out of your communication ( emails, conversations and texts.)
Try and think about your response here. Like my son who thought the coaches were stupid, he blamed them. He didn't want to take responsibility for his actions and admit he had been a jerk. Ultimately after discussing this with him, he admitted it. Start with "What can I do to collaborate and move this situation forwards that is beneficial to all parties involved." He got this wether he puts it into practice only time will tell.
4. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to react.
This is hard even for me. I can interrupt in conversations and make others feel I am not listening when I have experience and knowledge of the situation. I try as much as possible with my son these days to practice this. It is much more comfortable at work than in my personal life. At work, I encourage and want to hear ideas. I try to role model this, but last night at dinner I was reminded that this is so important to role model this to my son so that he feels heard.
5. Take the high road and let others take the lead.
There are always many roads to the desired outcome. However, as my son learned when he decided to trust, the coaches, he got to play which was his ultimate goal in the end. Stay open to others and what they have to say.
So here is my weekly challenge to you.
As you go into meetings, conversations or one on ones this week make collaboration your primary goal. Observe how you feel, respond and your relationships with others.
At the end of the week reflect and discuss with your coach, mentor or boss.
Make a note of how many times you wanted to prove you were right. It could be an email, a policy that someone else thinks they are right. Could be a conversation that happened and you know you were right, do you need to prove it? Or can you take the high road?
I always say "Kill them with kindness" and then go after what you want. When people want to help you, it will be less effort and great things can be acheived.
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