"You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want." ~ Zig Ziglar
A client came to me, frustrated and discouraged. He has invested a lot in his leadership development, and is working diligently to build a strong, trust-based culture among his team members.
A partner in his firm with more seniority has been undermining him lately by criticizing him in public, and taking credit for his ideas.
What can he do to remain positive, retain credibility with his team, and "win" against his partner? What can you do when a taker potentially destroys trust in workplace?
Remember That It's Not Personal.
Much of our work revolves around the leadership mindset. One of the most important aspects of effective leadership is to depersonalize a person's behavior. How they show up at work reflects a much more complex tapestry of experiences than simply work experiences. How a person feels about himself/herself is based on a collection of lifetime experiences, far beyond the office.
By depersonalizing an action or event, a leader can respond to the event according to what's best for the organization, rather than what is best for them individually.
Continue to Operate with Excellence.
Especially in times of conflict, leaders must remain true to their highest levels of excellence, because this is when the organization needs strong leadership the most. If another leader is consciously or subconsciously sabotaging the organization's morale, effectiveness, or productivity, this is the time for other leaders to remain focused on creating the best environment possible.
This strategy requires tremendous self-control. A natural tendency may be to invest time and energy in trying to control the behaviors or decisions of another person. However, we all know that this is not time well-spent. We can not control how others show up. We can only control how we show up.
Employees will seek consistent, dependable actions and temperaments when leaders display erratic, unpredictable, or toxic behavior. Your role in an unpredictable environment is to be the calm in the storm.
Seek Understanding and Compassionate Collaboration.
Those that seek to hurt us need our greatest compassion. Rather than trying to alienate the co-worker or co-leader that is seeking to undermine you, seek to understand what is driving their behavior.
Are they insecure about their role? Are they facing a pressure you may not know about? Are they threatened by you? Are they burned out?
By seeking to understand where they are, you may be able to collaborate with them as a united front.
I worked with my client to remain focused on what he wants to achieve with his team. If we know his co-leader will steal his ideas, how can we leverage this knowledge to achieve our desired goals? If he can let go of the credit for some of his ideas, then he can achieve his desired organizational outcomes by using his co-leader as a vehicle for implementation.
I reminded my client that his employees (who know he is an outstanding leader), will know that the ideas being presented are his ideas. He doesn't need the credit.
They will know that his co-leader did not come up with them on his own because he has never demonstrated this type of visionary leadership in the past. A person can only fake engagement for so long before getting bored or tired.
Ultimately, they will see my client as an even greater leader because he consistently leads with his heart, rather than his ego.
And isn't this the true definition of extraordinary leadership?