People are still getting used to hearing me say love in the same sentence with leadership. I define love in leadership as – “An unconditional high positive regard for an individual or a group of individuals that results in a powerful positive relationship of trust, respect and commitment.” It is about how you SEE people and it is about how you TREAT people.
I’ve always had an appreciation for Wayne Dyer’s quote – “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”, but it really hit home for me in a recent conversation with one of my clients, Frank.
Frank was concerned about his relationship with one of his employees, Shannon. She seemed to be very impatient with him lately and often a bit condescending. Frank’s initial conversations with Shannon failed to bring about a resolution, or even a clue to the problem. Although he was attempting to ignore the situation, it seemed to be deteriorating. As Frank shared with me some examples of their conversations, I noticed a disturbing pattern. I had to break it to Frank gently that he might be part of the problem. As their hostility was escalating, Frank often seemed to be slipping in some attitude and tone of his own, with a pinch of occasional sarcasm. While his frustration made him feel justified, it wasn’t helpful. I pointed out to him that the way he was seeing Shannon had started to impact their interactions. The truth is that how you see someone does impact how you feel around them, and ultimately, how you treat them.
As we discussed this concept, Frank agreed to try a simple exercise. I asked him to take a piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the center. On the left side, I asked him to write down in bulleted format how he truly sees Shannon. I gave him permission to be honest in describing their relationship. Whew! Some of what he wrote cannot be printed here. Some of the “tamer” comments included:
- Know it all
When he finished the list on the left side, I asked him to take a moment to clear his mind and then to make a new list on the right side. THIS list would include bullets that described how Frank would LIKE to see Shannon. They were examples of how he wished their relationship looked. This was a much different list. Some examples included:
- Easy going
As we compared the two lists, Frank could see how he was responding to Shannon based on his feelings from the negative list. We talked about how he might have responded differently if he saw her more like the traits from the positive list. Then I gave him a BIG challenge. I asked him to tear the page in half and throw the negative list in the trash. I urged Frank to see what might happen, if he practiced seeing Shannon from the positive list (no matter how she actually behaved) and for him to think before responding so that his answers would be based in the more positive view.
At first, nothing much changed, except perhaps, Franks responses. It took him a little practice and a great deal of restraint to respond as if Shannon was one of his best workers, rather than how he perceived her as one of his worst. Slowly, over time, Shannon changed as well. She, too, began to respond from a kinder and more patient space. Within two weeks, Frank said that they had a HUGE turn around in their relationship. He even got Shannon to open up about her concerns so that he was able to make some changes. By simply changing how Frank SAW and then consequently how he responded, he completely resolved this issue.
I’ve learned that this practice works in other situations as well. Perhaps you can use it with your spouse or your children. I’m going to encourage you to consider this simple exercise any time you run into a relationship issue. If you have great results, I hope you will share it with me. Change the way you see the person (or the situation) and before your eyes, that person will change.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share new tips and ideas on heart-based leadership. If you have specific questions or topics you would like me to address I would love to hear from you!