Leaders Radiate Competence, Shine In Tough Moments

In the News, Step Up

Everyone faces dilemmas at work. Adept execs turn quandaries into accomplishments. How they proceed:

Lengthen the fuse.

We all work with difficult colleagues, and “We’re conditioned to react,” said Judith Orloff, author of The Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life. What if you don’t fire back, instead keeping the bigger goal in mind while taking a minute to formulate a thoughtful response? “You win half the battle when you don’t react,” Orloff told IBD.

Concede worthy points.

“Identify the people in the workplace you react to,” Orloff said.Maybe it’s Miss Nitpick or Mr. Opposing View.Take them by surprise by agreeing with aspects of their arguments.” I like to let people be right. It takes all the negative energy out of the equation,” Orloff said.

Balance your act.

Being conciliatory doesn’t mean being a doormat. The trick is learning when to let something go and when to exert your opinion. “You’re not fighting. You’re not struggling all the time. You’re flowing,” Orloff said.

Handle fury.

Workplace anger shouldn’t be totally taboo.”It is the pointy end of the spear. It has a purpose,” said Colm Foster, co-author of Step Up : Lead in Six Moments That Matter. Irritation signals that a situation needs to be addressed. Dial down your visceral response. Lean back and take a breath. Keep your palms open, not in clenched-fist position. The physical shift de-escalates the situation. “It sends the signal to your brain that there’s no danger here,” Foster said, and the situation can be handled intellectually.

Lead in carefully.

When disagreements arise, start with an acknowledgment of the working relationship.Foster suggests saying: “You’re very creative and your ideas have been important to the company. But this one I’m struggling with.” Then talk it out. “The key to leadership is in the language you use,” he said.

Unfreeze the smiles.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, colleagues can be polite to a fault. That’s terminal niceness, according to Foster and co-author Henry Evans. “No conflict, no friction, no sparks,” they write. Handled adeptly, a vigorous debate illuminates issues and opens minds.

Take the heat.

The easiest way to postpone a decision? Ask your team for more data.Overusing that foot-dragging dodge only weakens your stature.Don’t be afraid to take risks. A reasonable amount of worry goes with the territory. “Waiting until you’re 100% sure is the root of indecisiveness,” Foster said.

Move the ball.

Ever suffer through conference room deja vu? That’s when one person identifies a problem, then “five people say the same thing in different language,” Foster said.Those are well-intentioned but misguided contributions. “They’re trying to get heard,” he said. Savvy leaders institute a state-it-once rule. Foster suggests pushing the dialog forward by reminding attendees, “That part of the conversation is done.”

Lift them.

Professionals who make others’ lives easier earn respect. “Ironically, the key to shining is putting others first,” said Andy Core, author of Change Your Day, Not Your Life. “When you help others reach their goals and become their best, you’ll usually find that the same things happen to you,” he said.

Be a rebounder.

Forget perfection. “What sets thrivers apart is the fact that after a fall, they forgive themselves, get back up and continue the journey forward,” Core said.

By Sonja Carberry

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