An “I’m OK, You’re OK” attitude is an intrinsic part of effective leadership. This proposition usually triggers a lot of discussion .
What troubles some leaders is their perception of their lack of capacity to view another person as OK when the other person’s behaviour was clearly not OK—well, in the mind of the observer anyway.
These leaders agreed:
- That when successful leaders communicate, they’re as clean-as-a-whistle. They’re authentic and believable.
- And that successful leaders are regarded as authentic and believable because they don’t have anything to hide when they’re communicating.
- And they don’t have anything to hide because they take an “I’m OK, you’re OK” stance.
But the problem is so many leaders struggle to make the other person OK.
Here’s an example…
As Observers, Aren’t We Way Too Quick To Pass Judgement On Someone?
Let’s say the other person is one of your team members whose work ethic, you think, leaves a lot to be desired. They’re arriving late and leaving early. Or maybe they aren’t putting enough attention on their KPIs. They’re doing the bits they like and pretty much ignoring the other bits.
Your perception is that they’re just not up to scratch. They’re not prepared to step up, and you’re fed up with them and their attitude. You’ve made the decision that they’re not OK.
This is a common situation for leaders.
Only last week, I too found myself incredibly frustrated with a particular person. I made them “not OK” for pretty much the entire week. I was making them so “not OK” that I wasn’t even tempted to have a discussion with them to attempt to resolve my dissatisfaction.
And Why Is This An Unacceptable Response For A Leader?
I understand that your other person is behaving in a way that you don’t like, that you don’t appreciate and that you don’t value.
Now here’s the really important bit…
You don’t know what’s having them behave that way.
You haven’t lived their life. You don’t know what happened to them when they were three. You don’t totally understand their natural behavioural wiring. You’re not fully informed about their values, what’s important to them. You don’t know that they had a huge, unresolved argument with their spouse earlier in the day. You don’t know that they didn’t sleep a wink last night because they’re concerned about the health of a child. You don’t know that their peer is getting in the way of them producing the outcomes they’re supposed to produce.
There are a lot of things you don’t know!
Because you haven’t been in their shoes since they arrived on planet Earth, you’re not in a position to judge them or their behaviours.
OK, OK, I know—they’ve wronged you. Or they’re making it hard for you to do your job. Or you simply find them hugely irritating.
However who are you to say that they have to behave in accordance with your rules for how human beings need to behave?
Sure, if you’re their boss and there’s a performance issue at stake, you need to deal with that. And it’s crucial that you behave as a poised leader behaves, and take a “you’re OK” stance as you cleanly and clearly confront the performance issue.
“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”—Wayne Dyer.
Your Leadership Call To Action
Who are you currently judging as “not OK”?
You don’t need to like their behaviour. But will you accept that they are the way they are for good reason, and let them be OK?
Will you confront what you need to confront with them from a poised “you’re OK” stance?
Email me if you, or a leader in your team, want help with this or another leadership behaviour.
“Carolyn’s coaching focussed on my expressed needs but did not steer away from the more confronting “development opportunities” that needed attention. She provided a series of tools and assessments that sequentially added to my understanding of my strengths and weaknesses, but placed within the context of her experience of a great many individuals grappling with the same types of issues… I would not hesitate in recommending Carolyn as an executive coach.”
– Director, health service
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.