February 13, 2020
In my Mid 30s I was a combative, competitive sort of a person focussed on making myself look good and successful in all work endeavours. I often got into situations where others in the team felt that I was being aggressive and pushy.
One day my supervisor called me in and gave me a straight feedback.
“As you grow into leadership roles , you have to learn to carry people along. You can’t rub people on the wrong side, even when they may be wrong. If you don’t fix your attitude you will not get the leadership roles”
While I was very good at solving business related problems, when it came to resolving my own behavior problems , I did not know how to course correct.
Luckily, my organisation felt that I was valuable enough to invest in my personal growth. A leadership coach was assigned to me to help deal with some of the issues I was struggling with.
ME: ” I am honest and straightforward. When I see some work not being done correctly, my job is to report that and recommend corrective measures. The other person is threatened by my feedback because she is inefficient and despite repeated feedback, she is not interested in fixing the issues.”
Coach: “Have you tried telling the person one on one about your findings and have you tried to figure out with her, what her challenges are ?”
ME: “Hmmm. No. We both report to the same boss. My job is to report my findings, which I do, diligently”
Coach: “Can I ask a clarifying question-What is your real interest here. In reporting the problem or in improving the situation for the organisation”
ME- I reflected on the question and responded- “Obviously , Improving the situation”
Coach: “If your intention is to see improvement in the situation, what might your motivation be in bringing out the details to your supervisor instead of letting the person know one on one”
ME: While I was ready to jump in and say there was no ulterior motive, there was a voice in the head that spoke the truth-“my true intention is to make myself look good in front of my boss. By pointing out the problems I discovered and sharing those with my boss, I was trying to make myself look intelligent and smart. After all if I did not point out that I had discovered the problem, how would my boss know what I was doing”
Coach: “Have you wondered how your colleague might be feeling ,when you share details of problems in her unit to your boss without letting her know first?”
ME: “She would be feeling threatened and very probably upset”
Coach: “What can you do differently so that she does not feel threatened and makes the changes needed so that the quality of work improves and you also meet your objective of making yourself visible for identifying the issues”
I was exposed to the very powerful insight and essence of Win-Win during that coaching session.
I was seeing all my interactions with others from the perspective of competition instead of cooperation. I was coming from a dark place where I had tied my self worth in winning by showing some one else down.
Today, when I come with a Win-win approach to any interpersonal challenge, my heart is set on one key objective-Mutual benefit. Let me not try and get what I want where the other person is not benefiting.
In order to develop a win- win approach, I have had to rewire myself to a mindset of abundance. When I feel abundant and generous, I come with an attitude that there is enough for everyone. I am comfortable giving first in order to get something later. I also have to be courageous enough to give something up first in order to let everyone gain.
There are lots of techniques out there, if you google, on win-win. Leaving aside all the techniques, for me, It all comes down to that feeling in my heart. Whenever I encounter a difficult situation, I deliberately put myself in a mind set of generosity and an deep commitment to ensure that the other person also wins or benefits as much as I do. When I go with that mindset, somehow, the right words, the right behavior shows through. Magically, the clouds of apprehension and uncertainty clear. Transparency and Trust flower. Results happen.
Whenever you are in a tricky inter personal situation(which could become political)- Ask yourself this simple question-“what is my real intention here”- If the answer is not Win-Win, you should know you are as much the problem, as the other person !!