An ultimatum?

Paul Andrew, ConnectLeadership.comThe following question came from a thoughtful viewer of the “Stepping into Emotional Pressure” video:

Q. Alright, so you got clear on how YOU wanted to work, and communicated that to Don. How is that different from giving him an ultimatum?

A. At the broadest level I agree that yes I presented an ultimatum, albeit one having special characteristics.

First off, my stance was founded in core values, things that matter very much in how I want to work and live. It isn’t every day that these values come into such sharp relief, but when they do it’s usually in important situations. This was a case that mattered to me–a key working relationship that would impact my working environment a lot. 

And secondly, my stance was focused on me, as opposed to being focused on how I wanted “Don” to be different. For example I didn’t say “I expect you to change,” or “You need to just hang in there,” or even “You shouldn’t feel that way.” Rather it was “here’s where I’m at, where does that leave you?”  And with that I invited Don to get clear on what he needed, and then to decide what he wanted to do.

Thus what I’ve described could be called the non-negotiables of a situation, which I think deserve a lot more thought and discussion in the workplace. If the non-negotiables are compatible, and accurately understood, then productive discussion can take place about the many negotiable points.

But if there are non-negotiables that don’t line up, then that’s trouble. One way to view stepping into emotional pressure is that it’s a process of clarifying one’s non-negotiables, and then interacting around them. 

In other words, “Here’s who I am, who are you?”


1 thought on “An ultimatum?”

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    Values-based leadership is the heart of effective leadership. Knowing who we are, what we stand for, what people can count on us for, builds the foundation for why anyone should follow us. People choose who to follow. Just being managed by someone doesn’t make them your leader, and there are plenty of people who have quit but remain on the job. I totally respect your values-based approach to clarifying choices for yourself and your people. Not every job is right for every person, and a lot has to do with the match between manager and employee. There’s no shame in not being a great manager for every person! And there’s no shame in not being able to work for every manager. Finding an appropriate fit makes a lot of sense to me, and you helped Don do that. Wahoo! – Kimberly Wiefling, Author, Scrappy Project Management (Available on Amazon)

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