WHAT APPEARS TO BE
If you’re average, there’s one person on your team that causes your teeth to grind and your head to hurt just behind the eyes. You attempt to “like” most people by always putting your best foot forward. But this guy — the one who blows it for the team — is a Doofus. He’s the one person who leaves you questioning the hiring practices of your organization (and on some days inspires you to update your resume).
Something’s got to change.
WHAT MIGHT BE
How does the average person lead in a situation like this? First, they create an ‘alliance of misery,’ meaning they recruit people to dislike the person in question just as much as they do. This is happening in those negative bitch sessions around the water cooler, the rolled eyes in the conference room, and the “See what I mean?” questions on cell phones on the drive home.
Another common strategy to overcome the nuisance of the Doofus: ignore him. Act like he’s not there. Don’t return emails. Try to make him look bad. Walk by him in the parking lot without even a head nod. Only use one-word sentences with him.
(Reader poll: what percentage of people use the above strategies? Comment and tell me if you are guilty of the above and similar methods or not guilty.)
When I try the above methods I remind myself that I also used such tactics when I was in seventh grade. I then cringe, realizing my leadership strategies have not evolved.
WHAT CAN BE
Imagine you have a ticket in your pocket. As long as you hold this ticket, you get to live your life on a roll. Now, imagine that you run into Mr. Doofus, the jerk, and because he alters your emotional state, and therefore your behavior, you give him your ticket.
How much sense does it make that you are no longer on a roll? How much sense does it make that you let him have that sort of control over you?
Leadership will never be accomplished if we don’t lead ourselves first. We all have three options: 1) we can continue to see the person as a Doofus (no change); 2) we can take control back and walk away thinking “the jerk has nothing on me” (a mere illusion and guarantee of bad things to come); or 3) we can control ourselves and move the relationship (and results) forward.
Here are four steps to achieve the third option:
1. Accept him. He is who he is and does what he does. As of yet, no one made us God.
2. When in his presence ask yourself, “Am I living out of my values in this moment?”
3. Take responsibility. He is not managing your emotions, you are. You are the person thinking and feeling for yourself.
4. Rise above. Take a moment to focus on the characteristics of this person that you do admire, appreciate or like.
Step #4 above is not easy, but then again, neither is leadership. If you want to stand out, you can’t be average.
What is the difference between what “might be” and what “can be”? You decide.