Drama-Filled Leaders

Christi Hegstad September 19th, 2013

Our ASPIRE Success Club just wrapped up discussion on a fantastic book by Cy Wakeman called Reality-Based Leadership. In the book, Cy shares practices for eliminating drama in the workplace so you can focus on what matters.

In the course of our discussion, one vibrant member asked an important question: What if your leader is the one causing the drama?

When a coworker or customer thrives on drama (and I’m sure we’ve all met those folks a time or two!), you have several options for navigating that experience. But when it’s your leader, you can easily feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do I just have to grin and bear it? Do I speak up – and at what risk? Do I ignore it? 

Here are a few crucial points to keep in mind when a conflict or drama-filled moment arises:

1. Find common ground. What end result can you both agree on, even if your methods differ? What component matters to both of you? You need to start at a common meeting place if you’re going to move forward.

2. Know what motivates him/her. Whether we consciously recognize it or not, we lead (and live) by our values. If your leader has a core value of safety, do what you can to create a safe environment when talking with her – or she won’t hear a word you say. If he values organization and order, present your ideas in an organized manner – or he won’t be able to get past the disorganization.

3. View from a different perspective. A friend of mine shares how, when her children are bickering with one another in the back of the van, she “views them from above” and tries to see things from each one’s perspective before responding. A whiny child can drive you to the edge, but when you can acknowledge that he’s simply overtired and needs a distraction, you’ll handle things much more purposefully and effectively. Transfer this to your workplace – it works wonders. 

If you’ve been with me for any period of time, you’ve likely heard me say, “Look for the lesson.” It’s one of my Guiding Principles – one that has helped me through countless difficulties. Apply that to your drama, too: what lessons can you learn here? Even if the biggest lesson involves learning how not to be as a leader, there’s value in that.

And I’d be remiss not to say, look honestly at how you may contribute to the drama, too. Take responsibility where necessary.

Of course, if the situation involves ethical, moral, or legal issues, that’s another matter altogether. And sometimes, the best solution is to limit time spent with the instigator or leave the situation. In the meantime, hopefully these tips give you insight into the psychology of the person you’re dealing with and allow you to grow and learn gracefully through the process.

How do you navigate drama-filled leadership? Please share your ideas below, on Facebook, or via Twitter.

Spark attendees will go deeper into #2 above, identifying their own core values with our pre-training call next week. We have room for just a few more – click here to join us!

Dr. Christi Hegstad helps you successfully do what you love! As President of MAP Professional Development Inc., she coaches professionals to get unstuck and reach Bold Goals with clarity, confidence, and meaningful action. Learn more at www.meaning-and-purpose.com and follow Dr. Christi on Facebook and Twitter.

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