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chala

This week, I had to re-evaluate my stance on compassionate leadership. It
wasn’t a proud moment.
I’m sure you’ve run into “him” before. The difficult-to-get-along-with-guy or
girl you’re sometimes forced to work with.  I’ve run into this same person in
every job, just in different bodies. Mostly what I know about him is that no
matter what the task, the reward or the scope of work being given to him, he
will say “no, I can’t/won’t do it”.
This guy has generally been allowed to overstay his welcome because of
management apathy and some semblance of productivity, but rest assured everyone
has had an uncomfortable run in with this person.
It is only after a two year long struggle to practice the gentler side of
leadership with such a person that I came to admit defeat.
I have written countless articles and spoken to hundreds of managers about
how to lead difficult to manage people with a gentle hand.
For over a decade, I have successfully practiced the fine art of showing
positive emotion to a negative one that was confronting me in the workplace.
I’ve witnessed with my own eyes, the turnaround of such a difficult personality
as to call it a virtual miracle.  I’ve moved through all sticky corporate
situations, with friendship and respect intact at all levels of the
organization.
But not this time…
Recently, I read about a South African tribe who has an ‘intervention’ for
one of their members who has gone into depression or become addicted to a
substance. It’s comprised of a gathering of the said persons’ loved ones, where
for 3 days straight, without stopping, tell the person reasons why they love
him.  The key rule is that no one can embellish or lie and has to be completely
truthful. Imagine a room full of people, who, instead of telling you why/how
you’ve screwed up, are telling you what’s wonderful about you.  At the end of
the confrontation, the person is supposedly cured.  This intervention is a
rarity in this village as most people live at a high level of optimism and
energy at all times.
I considered this story with respect to my personal run-in.
If there were the environment and resources to do the same with the said
person, what would be the outcome? Would it stop the office cold war and the
e-mail bickering and start a harmonious productive flow?
Realistically and tragically I realize that sometimes there just aren’t the
necessary resources to do such an intervention, starting with the people who
populate the culture in which we work.
If the troubled person’s never even been given the chance to truly know why
all these unreasonable people are asking so much and become so agitated with
him, who’s to blame? The system, the boss or themselves?
On further reflection, even though I realize that my dreams of using
compassion in the boardroom don’t always work out, I’m still an optimist and I
believe that gentle techniques such as:
-Speaking with reference to the other person’s core values
-Noticing what
went right not just what went wrong with this person and telling them about
it
-Putting yourself into the other person’s shoes to act more considerately
towards them
-Understanding the other person’s language and speaking in that
tongue to get alignment… do and can still work…most of the time.
As I finish off this e-Zine, hearing a client success story about one of the
above mentioned techniques working beautifully to turn around a similar
situation heartens me.
I can only hope that the bitter end of a severed employee-employer
relationship is not the final and painful impetus required to change a behavior
that is the root of the entire ruckus.
I can only hope…
With kindness as always,
Chala

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