It’s the famous bad break up line everyone jokes about and some actually use – “It’s not you, it’s me”. Although it’s usually a cop out to avoid honesty in a relationship, that statement is a great place to start if you are running into problems with those you work with and especially if you’re having problems with your boss. The “it’s not you, it’s me” line is probably a great starting point in any conflict, but today I want to focus on how it can benefit you in leading up with your senior leadership.
I understand that we each bring value to the organization, but you will keep hitting walls if you are spending your time trying to force your systems, ideas and vision upon your leader. The solutions and strategies you come up with need to align with the direction of your senior leadership and the direction the organization is moving. If you can get better at doing this you’ll be surprised at how your input will be requested and your ideas can start to become instrumental in bringing healthy and lasting change to the organization.
This isn’t a license to wait for direction, it’s not an excuse to not care and it’s not a reason to be passive. This is a challenge to be a smarter change-agent in your organization and become more valuable to the teams you lead and most importantly, become a load-lifter for your boss.
Here’s a few things that can help keep you from being the problem:
• Am “I” winning, or are “WE” winning? Victories for you and your team will be short-lived if they don’t align with the greater vision and direction.
• Spend time listening for key things that matter to your boss. Listen for key phrases they use, listen for things they are dreaming up and learn what matters to them. Align your systems and ideas to what matters to them.
• Give your leadership grace. No leader is perfect and I know for a fact you aren’t either! Show them the grace you hope your teams and your leaders will show you.
• Present multiple ideas. Always meet their objective first, but if you feel you have a way to do it more effectively then present that alongside what they asked for. This shows you listen and in return gives you a greater odds of pushing your ideas through. At the least, you will probably start to see your ideas infused with theirs and now “WE” are winning.
• Attach solutions to your “no”. Despite what you think, your boss probably doesn’t think he’s always right, he just hasn’t heard any other ideas. Don’t just say “no” – say “how”.
• Your job is to unify - not divide. Your teams are looking for you to be aligned with your leadership and not out to prove why you could do it better.
• Be the employee you would want to have working for you. Enough said!
Hopefully these things will help you leading your teams and open doors to be a greater change-agent in your organization. Just remember this stuff takes time and it’s worth the pain and sacrifice it takes to go from “you” winning to “we” are winning.