Thursday, November 17, 2011

The 2 Most Undesirable Traits In A Leader

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People have different views about what qualities make an individual a true and worthwhile leader -- the type of individual whom people will follow into battle (either legislatively or literally). An individual who is truly a commander has followers who feel safer and strengthened by his or her words and actions.

That having been said (one of my favorite phrases), the two elements which will undermine any aspiring or existing leader's credibility and influence status are common to all followers, although they don't often admit it:

1) Indecisiveness. Being too slow to make decisions, or being too obsessed with "buy-in" and "compromise" means that you are uncertain of either your position on an issue, or of your personal power. Both are unforgivable.

2) Weakness. If you are afraid to do battle with the opposition, even if you feel that either appeasement or collaboration are better alternatives (appeasement is never forgivable, and if you want to collaborate, be certain to assertively and ceremoniously establish the 'ground rules' as the consortium's de facto control person) makes you appear to be a coward, or somehow compromised.

Even some of your own most vociferous constituents, employees, followers or troops will be hesitant (usually for fear of reprisals) to point out moments when you've either tripped or are about to trip on one of these landmines. But with each incident of exhibiting indecisiveness or weakness, the probability of your maintaining an effective and efficient command will wane.

Presentation is sometimes every bit as important as substance in your role as a guiding light. Do not ever forget this.

Douglas E. Castle

by Douglas E Castle

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Your Opinion: Exercise Extreme Caution! - Interpersonal Relationships Are Like Minefields....

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If your opinion is not solicited, try to avoid offering it -- unless it is an urgent warning that may save someone about whom you care from getting hit by a bus or shot by a sniper.

Unsolicited opinions are generally perceived by most persons as intrusive judgments, criticisms or insults, unless they are obvious warnings of imminent danger, or unless they are stated as ideas... framed as 'spontaneous thoughts'. Example: "You know what would really bring out the color in your beautiful eyes? That fedora!"

Before offering your opinion (when it is actually requested), be certain that you understand the motivation behind the person's inquiry. In some cases, it is merely a call for validation or affirmation without any real opposition or new perspective on your part; in other cases, it is an honest request out of respect for your knowledge or special expertise. In the first case, the requester doesn't truly want your opinion, so much as your endorsement.

If someone says, "I'd really like your opinion about ___________," don't answer. Instead ask, "Why do you ask?" or "Why, in particular, do you want my opinion?" If the answer is along the lines that "I've decided to...," or "I'm going to...," or anything else indicative of a strong commitment to a plan of action, or a reference to a decision already made, proceed with extreme caution. This individual is seeking your agreement, assent or endorsement -- perhaps even your reassurance.

If you disagree with this person's decision or ex post facto action, and you wish to stay out of harm's way (avoid a wasteful argument, or compromising an alliance over something unimportant to you, specifically), the only answer which works is, "You've asked for my opinion, but I'm going to insist that in a matter such as this one, that you must trust your own instincts." This is a powerful non-answer, which places the responsibility for any outcome squarely on the shoulders of the requester and which sounds (albeit remotely) like your endorsement of the requester's decision-making skills -- but it is not a false endorsement of what may ultimately turn out to be a calamitous choice. Don't be an accomplice or enabler to stupidity if you can avoid it.

The truth is not always what is sought. Your alternatives are to lie (the least desirable), or to turn the question around to a positive-sounding non-answer. When possible, this latter choice is best, especially if artfully delivered.

Sometimes, in taking command of interpersonal relationships, diplomacy, and carefully choosing one's battles are the keys to the preservation of alliances.

Douglas E Castle

by Douglas E Castle

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Threats And Threatening

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The making of threats and engaging in the act of threatening are serious issues. They have a tendency to backfire. Although there are circumstances where a warning is appropriate, an outright threat (as opposed to an implied one, which is the type preferred by certain persons in high political office -- you've seen them in the movies, where a public official wants to induce another official to do his bidding, so he anonymously sends his quarry some photographs of his quarry engaging in "ethically questionable" acts) is seldom an intelligent tactic for getting anything done.

An outright (overt) threat, either made orally or in writing, gives your adversary an advance warning to prepare a counterthreat or defensive action. More often than not, these types of threats engender hostility and defensiveness more than compliance with the desired objective. If the threat is menacing enough, you can find law enforcement on your doorstep. And if you don't carry through with the threat after your adversary has failed to comply with whatever your demands were, you will have lost a position of negotiating strength.

The only threats that are effective are:

1) a threat of a lawful or legal action which you carry through with at the scheduled compliance deadline. These are perfectly fine to put in writing, as a matter of notice and record; or,

2) an imagined and unspoken threat, as perceived by your adversary when he has opened that envelope of nasty photos (as described in sordid detail earlier). In this type of case, you have let your adversary's mind do all of the threatening, without having said a single word.

If you  do not believe that your adversary can be 'behaviorally re-directed' by either of the two above approaches, you must attend to matters swiftly, precipitously and without any warning whatsoever. in order to change the undesirable predicament to which this other individual or entity has subjected you.

Generally speaking, positive reinforcement or negotiation is preferred to threatening whenever possible. If threatening is indicated in the circumstances, let your quarry's mind (and his imagination) do the work for you. And lastly, actions are generally preferable to threats.

This last comment regarding the taking of action is important, and should not be taken lightly. If you have achieved a reputation for taking action, that is more often than not, the greatest threat of all.

Don't be perceived as an extortionist. It is far better to be perceived as a person of action or as a positive motivator in most cases you will encounter.

Douglas E Castle

by Douglas E Castle


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