All of us have natural self-preservation tendencies, and these tendencies are more pronounced when we feel threatened.
We can become increasingly demanding, intimidating, and even blunt and outspoken when we feel we are not getting our way.
Others become more passive, even passive-aggressive. You don’t have to be an expert to know what I’m talking about. I’m sure you’ve seen it play out in the workplace. Throw all your complexities into the stirring pot of the workplace and it’s easy to see how conflicts and unhealthy situations can naturally arise. —From Many Parts, One Body, pg. 29.
There is a great, false perception out there about leadership: people can ultimately change who they are. I’m here to tell you that they can’t. They don’t. Can they improve? Absolutely. But as to whether a person can fundamentally change who they are–I think not. I have worked with hundreds of individuals from all walks of life, and most are not profoundly different people. But are they different and better? Yes, but only if they are willing to do the work necessary to get there.
“A duck is a duck, just as much as a goose is a goose.” What do I mean by that? You are who you are and nothing can change that–no matter how much you try to force it. Just ask someone who is close to you and knows you well–they will likely tell you that you have been ‘you’ for as long as they can remember.
That said, we all have what I call “good you” and “bad you” tendencies within each one of us. The good, higher-self you is the one who aspires to be the best he can be: well rounded, complete, well received, competent, liked, respected and trusted. Ideally, our goal is to be perceived this way by most–if not all–of the people we interact and work with.
Then there is the “bad you.” The one that no one, not even your spouse, wants to be around in extreme cases. The “bad you” is the one who doesn’t care what others think, wants his own way, does not collaborate, fights and resists everything and everyone. The “bad you” fundamentally believes he is the king of the world. He doesn’t care about anything but self-preservation. Candidly, the “bad you” is completely full of ego and nothing else. The “bad you” is the cause of many unhealthy states in organizations.
Ideally, we want to eliminate all traces of the “bad you” completely. Realistically, however, we simply want to get that part of us managed and under control. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, it’s not by focusing on suppression of the “bad you” that works, but rather the amplification of the “good you” that ultimately proves most effective.
How do I focus on amplifying the “good me”?
Feedback and interaction with others is the best way to determine what’s working or not working in your relationships. Do your relationships tend to be more positive or more negative? Answering this question alone will dictate whether you need to recalibrate.
Why is this relevant?
- Bottlenecks in relationships eventually lead to bottlenecks in getting the work done.
- No one likes to be around individuals who are “hard to work with” and sometimes this leads to avoidance, preventing workplace efficiencies.
- Everyone is in the same boat. This means that one person’s actions, good or bad, eventually work their way throughout the entire team. In other words, your problem becomes everyone else’s problem.
- Ultimately, more people working on amplifying their “good me” make for healthier organizations.
What’s the upside?
- “Better, Faster, Cheaper”: Strong and healthy working relationships result in more efficient teams and organizations.
- Healthy working relationships result in more loyalty: Working relationships are rarely ideal, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be healthier. Work on your “good me” and you will naturally develop loyal and supportive relationships.
Your leadership challenge: With vigilance, find and spend time with key business partners and discover how to properly enhance each other’s good sides.