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The “Five Rules” for working with people you can’t stand

Far Side Jerks

Despite what our mother’s may have told us, not everyone is going to like us.

It also goes to reason that we are not going to like everyone with whom we come in contact.

And while we all know that you can’t chose your family, the same can also be said regarding your co-workers. The only difference being that while you can limit your interaction with family members to special occasions, or once a year gatherings, it is not as easy do the same when you don’t like someone at work.

The question is, how do you work with someone that, like nails being scrapped across a chalk board, rubs you the wrong way . . . or worse?

In today’s post, I will talk about the “Five Rules” for dealing with people you can’t stand.

Rule No. 1: Never Involve Others In Your Misery

It is human nature to seek confirmation that it is the other person and not you.

This means that you will likely employ a number of social tactics including rallying other people to stand with you. After all you reason, if everyone feels the way I do, I must be right.

ganging-up2The problem with this is that you cannot control how others will respond and ultimately react.

You may very well gain consensus, but in the process create a lynch mod mentality that will cast a pall over the entire office.

In the end, you might even end up being the one who is seen by everyone else as the troublemaker and ironically, at least in their eyes, become the very person about whom you are complaining.

Besides, and generally speaking, the vast majority of people do not want to get involved as they are dealing with their own challenges and frustrating personalities. So if you must vent, do so with people outside of the workplace.

Rule No. 2: We Have All Been Jerks At One Time Or Another

Without the need to consult a series of extensive studies, it is safe to say that everyone at one time or another has aggravated someone in our daily lives – even if we don’t know it.

girl-looking-in-mirrorIf you recognize this, you open the door to both empathy and compassion.

This doesn’t mean that you should willingly or blindly accept unacceptable behavior. What it means is that you will encounter it with less anger. As a result, this may actually open the door to an opportunity for meaningful dialogue, as the other person may not even recognize that they are having such a negative impact on your life.

The key here is that if a discussion does take place, an empathetic frame of mind will enable you to have a constructive conversation, as opposed to an accusatory or combative exchange in which there are no winners.

Rule No 3: Get To Know Them

WhoAreYouThere is a famous song in the movie The King and I which goes as follows:

Getting to know you
Getting to know all about you
Getting to like you
Getting to hope you like me

The suggestion is clear . . . if you get to know someone, really know someone, you may actually get to like them.

Even if you do not end up liking the person who has been the source of your workplace angst, you might at least better understand them. Maybe even find areas of common ground around which you can build a rapport – as long as it isn’t a shared dislike of another co-worker.

Rule 4: Ignore The Ringing In Your Ears

If rules 1 through 3 doesn’t help you to diffuse your aggravation, or at least lessen your dislike towards a co-worker, then you have to learn how to contain your feelings without suppressing them.

Take a step back, breath and try to look at the bigger picture. In essence don’t get stuck in the moment or fall prey to tunnel vision – which is easy to do when you are angry. Instead, look beyond the individual, and focus your energies on your work, and on the positive people with whom you do come in contact.

IgnoringIt is like when your ears ring. The more you think about it, the louder and more noticeable the ringing gets.

The same is true when trying to deal with someone you don’t like.

When you are so involved with all that is going on around you, and do not make the person the center of attention, you will eventually begin to notice them less and less.

Rule No. 5: Leave or Accept

“To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.” – Eckhart Tolle

When you continue to complain without taking meaningful action, you will eventually find yourself in a pit of discontent of your own making.

There are of course a variety of sayings upon which I could call to illustrate my point. Fish, cut bait or go ashore, or lead, follow or get out of the way. Right off the top of your head, you probably have a few yourself. The point being that you ultimately have to do something more than wallow in your anger towards someone else.

This means you either learn to live (or work) with the other person or, you move on. There is in the end no middle ground for you at this stage.

walk-away-from-customers30

The Employee’s Guide for Surviving a Merger & Acquisition (Revisited)

Heinz-Kraft-again-jpg

“I wondered if I would lose my job despite what we were told. We all know when mergers happen there are overlaps, or for other reasons you can get pushed out,” he said.

From MSNBC Careers article “How to survive and thrive after an acquisition” by Eve Tahmincioglu

Back in 2012 when I wrote about the then recent announcement that Kellogg was buying Pringles, I focused on what an acquisition meant to employees on both sides of the transaction fence.

With today’s announcement that two iconic brands – Kraft and Heinz – were merging in a deal that was being backed by Warren Buffet and 3G Capital, I felt that it would be important to once again revisit the implications for employees beyond the headlines.

As highlighted in the above referenced article excerpt, the initial reaction is usually one of fear and trepidation centered on whether you will lose their job by becoming an expendable redundancy as a result of the newer, merged company.

There are of course no shortages of well intentioned articles highlighting the top 3, 5, 7 or for that matter a pick of any number of steps to securing your future in a changing corporate reality. However, the fact remains that job security is something that you build long before an M&A occurs by demonstrating your value to your company in a tangible and meaningful way.

Before terms such as personal brand entered the mainstream lexicon of business speak, who you were and what you provided was reflected in comments such as “you know that Joe is a hard worker, and you can depend on him to be there when you need him!” In essence, and even though you didn’t call it personal branding way back when, that is what you were doing . . . building your brand based upon how those around you perceived your contributions in the workplace.

Think of a runner who shows up at the starting line of a race without having trained in the months and years leading up to the competition. They will have a limited chance of winning. Unfortunately, far too many employees do not think about how their “brand” is perceived by co-workers as well as management until after an M&A is announced. It seems that the only time we ask ourselves these hard questions is when we feel that our job is at risk.

So the short answer to the question “how do I survive an M&A” is to be both conscientious and proactive from day one when you start your new job.

make things happen

Be outgoing in meeting and engaging with your co-workers and senior management. It’s all about your ability to build and sustain rapport.

Undertake assigned tasks with both energy, passion and enthusiasm. Remember that similar to relationships, there are going to be good days and challenging ones as well, so think in terms of running a marathon as opposed to a sprint.

Over time, you will create an enviable brand that if and when an M&A occurs, you will be well positioned to make the leap to a new, collaborative environment. I call this “fireproofing” your bigger future.

When and if a merger does occur, don’t sit in the background quietly waiting to be noticed. Your performance alone will not speak for you.

As the protagonist in the Tahminicioglu article confirms, you have to be “proactive after the merger, researching the new owners, networking with managers and putting in extra hours.” In short “you have to reach out and pursue opportunities.”

This is also good advice for those who may not have made the necessary and prudent investment relative to building their brand pre-M&A days.

While you can’t go back in time and un-ring the bell so to speak, you can view an M&A as a new beginning, a mulligan to those of you who might be golf enthusiasts, to get it right the second time around.

All in all, there is no doubt that the pending changes associated with a Merger and Acquisition can be daunting. However, you do not have to get swept away by a wave of fear. Instead look at it as an opportunity as opposed to an unwelcome change, and chances are you will come out on the other side with both feet firmly and securely planted within the new enterprise.

Adopting this mindset will showcase your ability to demonstrate courage and adaptability, a critical leadership trait essential in today’s uncertain marketplace.

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What Having A Seat At The Table Really Means

casablanca

Most everyone is undoubtedly familiar with the term “having a seat at the table.”

Often reserved for those who are considered to have both the influence and power to make decisions and effect change, the table has become a symbol of power, negotiation and credibility through which one can forward their career, generate a sale or plot a course for enterprise success.

In other words, when one is provided with a seat at the table, it represents an opportunity to be heard and to make a difference.

But there is much more behind coming to the table than simply taking a seat.

In my upcoming eNewsletter, I will be providing practical tips in terms of strategizing your “table-time” outcome, as well as being mindful of where to sit and why. Call it boardroom etiquette, presentation technique or strategic positioning, I am sure that you will find the tips useful.

However, and in putting together the newsletter, I came across something that was very interesting – especially in terms of the information you share from your seat at the table.

“The hardest thing about B2B selling today is that customers don’t need you the way they used to.” – Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon and Nicholas Toman in Harvard Business Review (July 2012)

In his review of the HBR article, Marc Bergen wrote “sales reps would take the time to discover a customer’s needs and sell them the solutions to those needs,” and that this approach “worked for a long time.”

WHAT YOU KNOW IS JUST A CLICK AWAY FOR YOUR CUSTOMER

Bergen then goes on to say that today, things are much different, as “almost everything that a customer needs to know about solving her perceived problem is just a click away.”

Think about this last point for a moment.

You are in a meeting in the boardroom. You are “at the table.” Whether you are selling a product or service, or championing a new strategy internally, unlike in the past, the people whom you are addressing are likely to be as knowledgeable about the subject matter as you are. This means that merely sharing information is not enough. You have to add value to it.

1. Know what they don’t know

You have to tell them more than the words they have already read through the click of a mouse. Beyond content, I am talking context. What is it that you, and only you, can add to what is already out there and known.

123_cdo_activate

This is the first rule of being effective at the table . . . assume everyone already knows what you know, and then find a way to not only deliver new insights, but new perspectives on existing knowledge. This is adding value.

What are other ways to add value from your seat at the table?

2. Become A Conversation Encourager

Besides the knowledge that you bring to the table, listen and observe what others are saying and doing, and don’t be afraid to challenge ideas or have your ideas challenged.

conversation2

In other words, facilitate a dialogue that encourages the free flow of information. The more information that is shared, the better positioned you will be to make a meaningful contribution.

This of course does not mean that you take over the meeting. What it means is that you become an active participant who, instead of monopolizing the discussion with your own monologue, you also encourage others to have a voice.

If there is a lull in the discussion, ask a question or make a leading statement. The key is to avoid the bobble head syndrome where everyone in silent acquiescence nods in seeming agreement with everything that is being said.

It is in scenarios such as these that you will likely find the origins of the lament “when everything is said and done, there is more said than done.” Or to put it another way, don’t get trapped by a route of least resistance assumption in which you interpret minimal dialogue to mean acceptance or buy-in.

3. Face Time Is At A Premium – Seek Clear Cut Feedback

Don’t assume anything. This is a good rule of thumb in all situations both in and out of the boardroom.

However, and unlike everyday exchanges and interactions, when you have a seat at the table, there is the expectation of achieving a tangible outcome, as well as understanding upon what said outcome is based.

feedback-570x300

If for example, a definitive course of action hasn’t been established, determine what additional information is needed, and what will happen after said information has been provided.

If the answer to your idea is no, it is better to know about it then, than leave thinking that it might still be on the table.

Remember, face time – especially in this world of virtual communication – is at a premium, so make it count by seeking clear cut feedback.

Tips:

  • Come prepared with thought provoking questions
  • Be seen as an information broker – share statistics, competitor strategies or research not yet publicized
  • Speak up early in the meeting to make yourself present
  • Ditch your i-phone, android or i-pad.
  • Own your space at the table

Once again, in my upcoming eNewsletter, I will provide you with tips regarding board room protocol and techniques for best presenting your ideas i.e. find an opportunity to write something on the smart board or flip chart and remain standing for as long as you can.

Like proper dress or table manners at a business lunch, these are important because you want people to see and hear you beyond surface distractions, and in the best light. The purpose of today’s post is to make sure that when they are watching and listening to you from your seat at the table, you have something meaningful to say.

Subscribe to my FREE Monthly eNewsletter through the following link:http://usheroff.com/newsletter/

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When setting goals, is time on your side?

time_travel

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” – Admiral Jim Stockdale

We are all probably familiar with the above excerpt from Jim Collins’ book Good To Great when, in the chapter titled “Confront the brutal facts,” he shares with us the compelling story of Admiral Jim Stockdale.

Stockdale, who was the highest ranking U.S. officer to be held prisoner in the notorious Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam war, talked about the fact that those who did not make it out of that harrowing situation were the optimists.

The reason he gave is that they kept setting times for their hoped for release. When said times repeatedly came and went without their being freed, they eventually lost all hope and gave up on life.

Even though we may not, in setting our career goals, be facing the actual life or death situation that Stockdale and his fellow prisoners had faced, the same principle that saw the Admiral persevere and overcome is still very much relevant to our own dreams and aspirations.

In other words, your focus should not be on self-imposed time limits such as by the age of 30 I want earn X amount of dollars, or by 45 I want to be CEO. This is because there are always going to be circumstances beyond your control that can impose unexpected delays or a change in course.

This doesn’t mean that you should not set goals. What it does mean is that in setting goals you are aware of time, not driven by it.

What About Deadlines?

Now some of you might be thinking “that’s easy for Roz to say,” as she probably doesn’t have a boss who has given her a task that must be completed by a specific date.

As someone who has written many books and dealt with publishers and editors, I do understand deadlines. Especially the line drawn in the sand kind of expectations in which there is little if any flexibility.

However, this doesn’t change the applicability of Stockdale’s advice. Specifically, that while facing or acknowledging the “brutal fact” that you have a cast in stone deadline, you do not lose faith in your ability to deliver. This last point is the key!

If you make your assigned task about meeting a deadline, then you make time your enemy in that you will lose focus on what you need to do to be successful.

clock worry

Think about Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.

As much as any other quarterback in NFL history, he has led his team from defeat to victory in the final two minutes of countless games.

While being aware of the clock, Brady did not focus on the time he had but, what he needed to do to drive his team down the field to score the winning points.

It was both his focus, and the faith that he would prevail, that enabled him to get the job done.

Urgency Is Not The Same As Desperation

In your everyday business life, you need to possess a sense of urgency as opposed to desperation.

With desperation, time becomes your enemy as opposed to your ally.

When you however pursue your goals and dreams with a sense of urgency, it drives you to focus on the individual steps and tasks that you must complete to get to where you want to go. Or to put it another way when you, with diligence and integrity, work towards achieving your goals, time is on your side.

Even though you might not attain the desired success within the time frame you had originally hoped, like Admiral Stockdale you will get there, and it will be no less satisfying.

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2015 Guide Cover

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Trapped in a bad boss – employee relationship?

trapped-by-hand

“Experiencing a toxic boss (female) at the moment, complete nightmare. I went on medical leave 4 months after starting a new job and when I returned I was given 2 work options. I picked the small project option. She has set out to sabotage it for the entire 8 months I have been working on it. Have been looking for another job within the same company for that entire 8 months…so far no luck.” – JC from Is your boss trying to sabotage your career . . . and what you can do about it!

trapped 3

Have you ever had to deal with a difficult relationship? It is to be certain not easy.

However, a difficult relationship becomes even more trying when it happens to be with your boss. Especially if like most people, you are dependent upon your job to pay the bills and keep a roof over your head.

As a result, you likely feel trapped and powerless.

In such a situation, work life becomes an exercise in endurance as opposed to being a rewarding and productive experience.

The question then becomes; what can I do about it?

“The lesson I learned was if your boss hates you, get out.” – RMS from Is your boss trying to sabotage your career . . . and what you can do about it!

Do I have to quit, suffer in silence or do I speak up and risk getting fired?

In today’s post I will zero in on the 5 key steps that will empower you to take back the reigns of your career aspirations, whatever they may be (and wherever they may lead).

1. Determine If You Are The Only One

While you do not want be seen as inciting rebellious behavior among co-workers or against the corporate culture, you’re probably not alone in your experiences in dealing with a difficult boss – employee relationship. In this regard, it’s important to seek feedback from fellow employees whom you trust (emphasis on the word trust), to confirm if the strain in your relationship with your boss is limited to an isolated personality conflict, or an overall management style.

A cautionary note, while it is important to seek meaningful feedback, you do not want to become a charter member of the “I hate the boss” movement. Getting caught in a commiserators club, will actually trap you more as opposed to setting you on the path to freedom.

2. Know With Whom You Are Dealing

If there appears to be a pattern of behavior on the part of your boss that extends to his or her relationship with other employees, then the next step would be to try and understand why they are compelled to act in such a manner.

There are some bosses who truly do not know that their behavior is problematic (The Reasonable Toxic Boss), or believe that this is in fact the most effective way to lead or manage people (The Rational Toxic Boss).

Regardless of the personality type, gaining this much needed perspective will help you to determine the next course of action you can take to resolve relationship issues with your boss.

3. Plan Your Approach

Based on feedback from your fellow employees, you have determined that it is not you, but the boss who is mostly responsible for the disconnect.

You have also identified your boss’ personality type, by the manner in which they deal with others.

You are now ready to approach your boss in terms of attempting to have a meaningful and productive dialogue.

For example, with the Rational Toxic Boss, a conciliatory approach in which you seek his or her guidance on helping to improve relations makes the most sense. With the Reasonable Toxic Boss, merely creating constructive awareness may be the ticket to better days ahead.

The key point to remember at this point, is that like most people, your boss likely has their good traits as well as less than desirable traits. None of us are perfect. Don’t approach them from a position of anger or frustration, but one that is firm, respectful and conciliatory.

By taking this approach, their reaction may surprise you.

4. Managing The Aftermath

Depending on how the discussion goes, you should schedule regular meetings with your boss in an effort to ensure that you are helping them to achieve their objectives or goals.

Establishing a consistent line of communication will enable you to build a rapport through which both you and your boss can derive the greatest benefits.

5. No Matter What The Outcome . . .

Finally, and no matter what happens, “never” as Mark Twain so aptly put it “argue with stupid people,” as “they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

Always be both professional and courteous in your interactions with your boss no matter how unreasonable they may become. This rationale will help you to best showcase your true character as well as speak volumes to those watching, as you never know through whom your next opportunity may come.

Besides, conducting yourself is such a manner will both empower you as well as restore a sense of control over your life.

In conclusion, manage your attitude on a daily basis. How you view challenging situations will determine the outcomes you create, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Sid Ridgley

To quote Sid Ridgley, a pragmatic strategist, how you see the world, how you handle stress and how you manage relationships are all linked to your thinking patterns. You don’t have to change who you are but you must be flexible in communicating with all types of people. Your ability to think differently will help you to identify solutions that can weather the storm with challenging bosses.

In this context, I would like to leave you with the following saying that has, over the years, become increasingly meaningful to me.

You sow a thought and reap an act.

You sow an act and reap a habit.

You sow a habit and reap a character.

You sow a character and reap your destiny.

 

2015 Guide Cover

Do you know the difference between the fear of success and the fear of failure?

My guide How To Make 2015 Your Breakout Year will not only help you to recognize the common obstacles that befall all of us, it will also enable you to take action within the framework of your own unique gifts and abilities to make this year your most successful ever.

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How To Make 2015 Your Breakout Year

2015 Guide Banner

Removing The Obstacles That Are Holding You Back From Achieving Success

At the end of January, my new “How To Make 2015 Your Breakout Year” 20 page Guide will be published and available for purchase.

The following is an excerpt from The Guide.

While I have written many books, articles and blog posts, as well as traveled the world extensively in the past 20 years, speaking to audiences around the globe, I have a special passion for this Guide.

This passion transcends the humble desire to simply help people to enjoy a greater level of success than they may have previously known. What I am talking about is a level of success that is not based on an external scale established by a dynamically changing “outside” world. The kind of success I am talking about enables you to derive the greatest level of personal satisfaction. It’s about having a peace of mind that comes from knowing that you’re living up to your own unique potential both as a professional and as a person.

Let’s face it, just as your fingerprints are unique to you, so too is your view of the obstacles that you have. Unresolved, these obstacles will invariably continue to interfere with your journey on the road of life.

What this Guide does differently is help you, in your own way, to recognize the common obstacles that befall all of us. It is through this recognition that you will ultimately be provided with the ability to take action within the framework of your own unique gifts and abilities.

For you to derive the greatest benefits from this Guide, you must bring something to the table. It is not a high IQ, or an intuitive perspective that will enable only a few select people to decode a secret message. After all, and as you will discover in the following pages, there is in reality no secret to success. In fact, success is based upon something that is actually within each and every one of us. While it may, as the Acres of Diamonds fable so profoundly put it, be hidden in plain sight, success is like the air we breathe in that it is equally accessible to everyone.

This last point is the most important principle that you must accept – that success, or the opportunity for success – is equally available to everyone. Not surprisingly, this is also the first obstacle to be indentified and overcome.

By looking beyond your individual circumstances or present starting point, and by accepting that success is accessible to you personally, you’ll unleash a power that will both inspire and propel you towards greater achievement.

It will create in you the desire to want something better, a determination to take action, and an attitude of perseverance to work towards making the necessary changes to be all you can be, and all you were meant to be.

The Next Hurdles

Now that you have accepted the immutable truth that like a Donald Trump or the bag boy at the local supermarket, you have the same opportunity to achieve your goals, you are now ready. When I say ready, I mean ready to roll up your sleeves and tackle the other obstacles that stand between where you are today, and where you were meant to be.

The Fear of Failure

According to a June 14th, 2014 PsychCentral article by Tellman Knudson, CHT, we all have a fear of failure.

In an effort to help you to determine if you are one of the many who if not paralyzed by a fear of failure, are at least hindered by it, Knudson posed three simple questions.

The three questions are as follows;

  1. Do you ever put off doing something because you’re not sure how it will turn out?
  2. Do you avoid situations where you will have to try something new in front of people?
  3. Have you ever put off doing something you know will improve your life, even though you have no good reason not to do it?

Casting so wide a net, it is not surprising that Knudson’s article is titled “Why We All Have A Fear of Failure.”

The issue I have with this quiz is its potential implications that suggest the existence of fear is in and of itself a bad thing. I especially disagree when the author refers to a fear of failure as “not being useful,” and “short-sighted” as well as being a “kind of neurosis that keeps us from attempting to accomplish anything at all.”

Knudsen, who is a practicing hypnotherapist, then erroneously makes the contention that “failing is certainly not seen as a prerequisite for success.”

Based on Knudsen’s take, I think that people will more likely have a fear of talking about the fear failure than having the actual fear of failure itself.

The fact is that fear, and more specifically the fear of failure, does affect all of us at one point in time or another. Whether we are trying something for the first time or the thousandth time, it doesn’t matter. It is therefore not the fear itself that is the problem, but how we deal with it.

In short, it is our attitude towards fear that determines our ability to overcome it.

Reflect on these words again . . . it is our attitude towards fear – in whatever form it takes – that determines our ability to overcome it.

Note that I did not talk about the removal of fear, or the need to disprove the merits behind its basis or origins. Overcoming fear in its truest form is not denying fear but taking action in spite of it.

How do you deal with your fear of failure?

Based on my experience, it is important to accept the fact that the potential for failure is as inevitable as the potential for success. The key therefore is not to dwell on one or the other, but on taking meaningful action regardless of the outcome.

2015 Guide Cover

I hope you will invest in How To Make 2015 Your Breakout Year because you deserve to live out your dreams! Order your full copy through the following link; (http://usheroff.com/product/how-to-make-2015-your-breakout-year/)

The Chameleon Effect: Maintaining Authenticity While Adapting

chameleon rango2

I see being a chameleon as someone who cares enough to adapt to others communication style, to read the temperature of a meeting, for example and change to be able to resolve issues, make people feel comfortable and so on. It doesn’t necessarily mean changing who you are but being socially and/or politically savvy to understand that we need to be flexible – Roz Usheroff

The title to the introduction of my book The Future of You: Creating Your Enduring Brand is Before We start, Remember . . . To Thine Own Self Be True!

This is a principle that I have, over the years, written and talked about at length for good reason. Beliefs or “perceptions of self” determine your values and ultimately the goals you both set and work toward achieving in terms of your future success.

It all seems pretty straightforward, yet oftentimes it is not. Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we mistakenly confuse being adaptable to surrendering our own beliefs and values as a means of fitting in.

chameleon

The problem as described above arises when we deal in absolutes, or attempt to define ourselves and the world in which we live and work in terms of being either black or white.

In this context recognizing, as the old saying goes, that there are always three sides to every story or position, is good advice.

Another challenge presents itself when we lose sight of our motives.

The Difference Between Reasons and Motives

In her January 2015 Harvard Business Review article The Authenticity Paradox, professor and author Herminia Ibarra provided a number of examples as to why leaders today “struggle with authenticity.”

As a case in point, she writes about George, a Malaysian executive in an auto parts company who, after his company was acquired by a large multinational corporation, bristled at his new boss’ suggestion that “he needed to sell his ideas and accomplishments more aggressively.” Not being comfortable with this approach, George felt he was being put in the position of having to choose between “being a failure and being a fake.”

Talk about a black and white view of a situation.

The real question George’s story raises is simply this; does the ability and/or willingness to adapt ourselves like a chameleon, to a changing environment, mean that we have to compromise our personal values or beliefs?

In other words, when we are required to do something that makes us feel uncomfortable or forces us outside of our comfort zone, do we automatically sacrifice our authenticity if we comply?

Confronting this question represents the fork in the road between reasons and motives.

George no doubt had very good reasons for not wanting to follow his new boss’ direction. Prior to it’s acquisition, his old company “valued a clear chain of command and made decisions by consensus.” In other words, there was no need for promoting oneself as every decision was reached by way of a collaborative team effort. George was comfortable with this approach.

However with his new company, “George found himself working with peers who saw decision making as a freewheeling contest for the best-debated ideas.” Individualism and intrapreneurship were both encouraged and rewarded. This was something with which George was both unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

Based on his personal view, in resisting his boss’ direction George was taking the road of reasons, and in the process lost site of the motives for why he was there in the first place.

This is an important distinction in that our focus should be on the motives for why we do what we do, and the desired outcomes we want to achieve.

For example, a friend of mine does not always like going to the gym 3 times a week, but he does enjoy the benefits of being healthy and having more energy. His motives are to live a better and healthier life.

Given his busy schedule and the fact that he is often tired at the end of the day, he would no doubt have what many would consider to be good reasons for not going to the gym. But if those reasons prevent him from achieving his end goal, even if they have a degree of legitimacy, they ultimately undermine as opposed to strengthening him.

Or to put it another way, authenticity is not based on only doing those things with which we are most comfortable or enjoy doing. Authenticity is remaining true to your motives or intent while working towards a worthy and honorable goal, that serves the best interests of others as well as your own.

Does this mean that George has to overnight become a whirlwind of self-promoting energy, shedding any remnants of discomfort with stepping into the spotlight? No.

What it does mean is that instead of finding reasons not to do something, George should assess his actions in the context of his original motives for doing what he does.

If his motives are based upon helping his company to succeed and in the process develop into the best executive he can be, then by becoming intrapreneurial, he is actually maintaining his authenticity.

Conversely, and by choosing the road of reasons i.e. I have never worked like this in the past or we have never done things this way, represents more of an excuse than it does a stance.

Have you ever encountered the fork in the road between your reasons for not doing something and the motives that drive you towards your desired outcomes or goals?

What did you do? Which road did you take?

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