Don was surprised. He seemed to be expecting me to say something different. My guess is that he thought I’d go to any lengths to keep him on the team. For a while he said nothing.
Finally he responded: “It’s true, you can’t change what happened with the old manager. It’s not like I’m about to leave but I’m frustrated and I wanted to let you know.”
And with that the nature of the conversation changed. We talked about next steps for his project. At that point it felt like we were working together. I had released him to either leave or stay and he had chosen to stay. Now we could talk in a spirit of collaboration as opposed to pursuit.
Over the next few weeks, we had a few more interactions like this one, which started with anger, and ended with discussion.
These experiences gave Don a chance to think about what he wanted in a work dynamic. He eventually realized that indeed the current situation wasn’t working for him, and that my working style wasn’t one that he liked. And so with that clarity, he decided to leave and find work elsewhere.
And with his departure, it opened the door for me to rethink how I wanted to get this particular project done. I came up with a new plan, and it’s gone quite well. I see in retrospect that this plan probably wouldn’t have come about had Don and I not found our clarity and stepped into the emotional pressure.
If you’d like to learn more about Stepping into Emotional Pressure, here are a few ways. At connectleadership.com you can watch the 10 minute video version of this week’s story, sign up for my monthly newsletter, and learn about the “Stepping into Emotional Pressure” workshop.
One more thing: if you’re facing a challenging leadership situation and you’d like another perspective, let me know. I don’t have quick answers, but I do have good questions that may help you find a new way forward.
© 2007 Paul Konasewich