Have you ever had this kind of learning experience?
Being B’s leader was a complete and utter shock for me.
All the working relationships I had before him had been with gentle, kind and eager-to-please workers requiring a very general, non –directive way of communication.
With B, I had met my match!
B assisted me with my 5 year intensive study of leadership. He was my sacrificial lamb – all that I have learnt, came at the cost of making the most horrendous mistakes with him.
I am a very gregarious, focused, goal orientated person and when B effectively said, ‘Well that’s fine, but no I won’t do as you ask, demand, threaten or bribe’. He didn’t fuss or get scary and wild, he would just stop what he was doing and look at me with this ‘no’ look. I was floored.
For weeks at a time I was totally at a loss as to how to get what I wanted done. I would experiment with different things, all to no avail, leaving some encounters so angry, I would just collapse when I was on my own.
It got so bad that when I arrived to catch B’s attention, his eyes grew big and round and he would turn away from me. As you can imagine I was pretty devastated.
From this place of complete and utter despair I had a realisation.
Oh my god…….I was doing everything with him from my perspective, not his. The way I communicated, presented myself and my attitude was all about me and what I wanted.
I never really considered if it was good for B.
Because things got so intense for me in these stuck spots, I would take every opportunity to escape this intensity by going overseas for a break to where my husband was working. It was a trip at the end of 1999 into 2000 that I finally had the realisation.
When I got back home I asked myself:
If I was B how would I like to be spoken to?
What tone in my communication would encourage and inspire B?
How would B like me to present myself to him so he could understand what I wanted?
What attitude would I need to have to ensure he responded best?
How would he like to feel me?
How I could lead to make him feel relaxed, calm and interested?
These questions became core Leadership learnings for me.
I learned from B the value and importance of adapting to personalities, environment and tasks fluidly and with fresh eyes each and every moment without compromising the relationship.
Above is a photo of B.