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I’m A Grown-up, Get Me Out of Here!

You know what they say about work, “it would be great if it wasn’t for the people”.

If we could just make everyone see it our way, it would all be wonderful because, let’s face it, most of us know we know best…whatever our role.  So, we’re all correct, all of us, all the time!  Can’t see any possible problems arising there then – no conflict, no sulking, no emotions…right?  Yep, I can feel the breeze of the collective nods of your heads as we all agree the workplace is a very positive, negative-emotion-free space.

Hhm, we’ll come back to this. In the meantime, what’s the answerto the all-elusive question “what makes an effective Leader?”A theme that has been presenting itself to me of late is that good, effective Leaders are people who really are “grown-up” and do the right thing, by people and the business.

This is much rarer than we might think. After all, most of us would rather be “right” and dig our heels in than be seen to change our minds or admit we don’t have the answer.  And, if we’re forced into accepting an alternative solution, many of us pour our energy into defending our own solution, rather than supporting implementation of the decision taken.  I know, I’ve been there and it was very draining. I also know I’m not the only person who experiences this.

The vast majority of Managers I speak to suffer from this too and let’s keep in mind that Managers are supposed to be the Leaders! Too many managers avoid difficult conversations they know they should have, be that upwards, downwards, with peers or even, at times, with customers.  Then they get frustrated when nothing changes or situations blow up or repeat patterns keep happening.

When asked “have you talked to the person?”, the most common answer is “no”. So, we avoid having grown-up chats like the plague and then leak our emotions all over the place when the other person doesn’t intuitively “know” what we want.  Resentment, non-cooperation, stone-walling, conflict, general misdirected energy runs riot around the place.

So, does just having those difficult chats make us grown-ups? Not quite, they have to be effective so blurting the issue out while emotions are swirling around the place isn’t going to work.  I might have mentioned this before (it just doesn’t go away) but understanding ourselves, our emotions and our trigger-points is key to being able to hold these conversations effectively i.e., presenting the issues effectively and not getting defensive should the other person start throwing mud.

Do you avoid or have those difficult conversations and what motivates you, one way or the other?

I work with Business Owners, Executives and Managers to help them overcome blockages so that they achieve their goals. I excel at getting people to think, getting people to talk and getting people to agree to giving things a go. In summary, I bring Clarity to the issues, provide on-going Support and guide them to achieve Results. I am an experienced Executive Coach and Leadership Development Trainer. I am qualified in 360 Emotional Intelligence and am constantly seeking new ways to assist my clients.

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  • Love this post 🙂

  • Hi Irial. Yup – been there and done that. Why can’t people just get what I want! :). How did I/do I overcome it? By simply making sure that I a really listen to what people are saying and engaging fully to ensure that I understand what the issue is. Great post, thanks for sharing.

  • Hi guys,

    Glad you liked it. I feel this theme really does get to the core of our effectiveness in business. The scary thing is that we all do it and most of the time, we don’t even realise we’re doing it because we’re right.

    As to how we overcome it, it comes down to how we really see people and the impact that has on how we interpret the world around us. I have started using tools that get to the very core of this issue and they are scarily powerful. There is an instant shift in people’s perceptions.


  • And sometimes it’s good to walk away from the immediate conversation and respond later on reflection

  • Thanks for that, Una.

    Yes, if our emotions are all over the place, the last thing we should do is have a discussion with the other person. You highlight a very important point – the need to reflect (covered in my last post). However, many people don’t take the time to reflect on what was so upsetting so they don’t become aware of what is causing the emotional upset. For many others, they just walk away and just avoid having the conversation, even if it causes problems down the line.

  • I’ve just had a thought, sparked by Una’s point about the need to reflect – is the process of “reflection” the equivalent of us having a “difficult conversation” with ourselves?

  • True leadership for me includes surrounding yourself with people that will challenge you, take you on. I would even say that default leadership requires you to seek out those that will disagree. This will facilitate better decisions, unfortunately the human condition makes it hard to do this as in we invariably prefer to surround ourselves with yes men. A second damaging result of hanging with people who don’t challenge is the group think effect, in that we end up taking a more rooted position than if we were left to our own devices. I think that this has been responsible for a lot of what has happened in this country of late. The establishment struggles badly to see past it’s own nose and as a result creativity & bravery is non existent in decision making.The catholic church is another prime example of this at work. In many cases the leadership function is rotten & doesn’t process the means to correct itself. Even getting rid of the leaders is in itself not enough, the definition of how leaderships works must also be changed.

  • I have to recommend to anyone who wants to read real life stories about effective management, self-reflection and non-ego leadership: Margaret Heffernan’s “Women on Top”.

    Great title, great read and it will wake up those who think you have to have a totalitarian approach to leadership.

    And a great thought provoking post Irial 🙂

  • Hi Elaine,

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll give it a look.


  • Hi Niall,

    I thought my blog was challenging – your comment really throws down the gauntlet 🙂

    It kind of all stems from the old saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely” – if we only surround ourselves with people who will agree with us, who is going to tell the Emperor that he’s (she’s – wouldn’t want to presume) got no clothes on? And, more importantly, what will happen to the person brave enough to tell the Emperor?

    What’s interesting is that those companies that can get past their own noses and build groups who will speak up their minds tend to be more successful, in the medium to long-term.

    Have you any thoughts on what the brave new world of leadership should look like?

  • It needs to start by being more representative/in tune with the society that it supposed to represent.
    By creating & listening to a structured dialogue with those who oppose our position, disagree or take a another point of view, we invariably move closer to them and them to us – which allows for better decision making that takes more people in account and ends up benefiting more. Leadership should be a more democratic process and leaders should be keepers of this rather than egotistical or insecure people. Accountability & Leadership are very much one & the same for me, yet here (in Ireland) they are opposites. why is that? & why do we continue to find it an acceptable way to lead?

  • There’s that “listening” theme again. That’ll be my next blog! The funny thing is that we’re never actually taught “how” to listen. We’re taught “how to keep quiet” but we all know that being quiet, with our minds wandering is not the same as listening.

    Which brings me to Leadership and where it should be taught. Should it actually be on the school curriculum from very early on? Should we be actively taught “how to listen”? Should we be taught philosophy and how to manage ourselves? Would we end up with a more tolerant and inclusive society, extending into the business world?

    Your comments on accountability and leadership are spot on. My only question is “does that happen just in Ireland”?

  • It may happen elsewhere but accountabily is a bigger factor in my opinion, here it doesn’t really enter into it and we appear to find this entirely acceptable.

    The people that failed us were rewarded for their failures & are now the same people entrusted with fixing the mess??

    It’s like some kind of parallel universe when compared to the reality that the majority of us live in.

  • My pleasure, Michelle. Thank you for the great insights! u00a0

  • Hi Niall. Thanks for including my blog post in this great list! I’m in good company.

  • Hi Zuly, Thank you for the great post and super insights :)u00a0

  • tiroberts

    Now, that is a HUGE opportunity that any small business owner would be excited about. It’s awesome of Intuit to offer such amazing prize. Can’t wait to see who wins the spot. 🙂


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