Stand Your Ground
There’s a lot to be said for compromise and flexibility in the workplace. Among other things, these strategies can be great for building consensus, supporting teamwork, and cultivating positive employee morale. But as a leader, you will sometimes find yourself needing to take a firm stand—and even dig in your heels when faced with resistance or disregard. For example, when people push back against or ignore a needed change you are implementing, you’ll need to call upon willpower and self-discipline to effectively manage the resistance and follow through with what’s been decided. That means not caving to pressure or taking “no” for an answer. Be strong, maintain focus on your goals, and believe you can do what’s required. Such opportunities, in which you’re tested and yet maintain your stand, can become vital moments of truth for your leadership, courage and credibility.
When you make a stand and commit to do something new, you might be surprised about who will give you push back and how common it is for people to resist change or demand compromise. While there are times when you may want to bend in the wind, remain open to discussing your decided direction, or quit altogether, there are times when that’s not an option. I’ve found push back commonly comes in the three forms listed below. Be on guard for when they do!
Push back from your boss. There are times in my career where I gave in too easily to my boss. I came to realize that if I wanted to be effective, I need to find a way to stand my ground with my boss and get him to change his/her position. Whether it’s going to the mat for one of your direct reports, a new strategy, or some resource you need to do your job well, adopt the attitude that you’re going to get what you want, no matter what. While you may need a plan of attack for proving your point, this mindset will help in managing any push back and delivering a win. When countering any resistance from your boss, also remember to control your ego and maintain your sense of professionalism.
Push back from your team. Have you ever met with your team members, asked them to do something, and gotten nothing but a bunch of “no’s” in return? If so, you’re not alone. It happens more often than you may realize, even to the greatest of leaders. (Think: Lincoln versus his cabinet.) When this happens, as frustrating as your people’s resistance might be and as unpopular as you may feel, you’ve got to manage such situations with tact and not take “no” for an answer. If people say they can’t do something, embrace the “no” as an opportunity to acknowledge their honesty and surface concerns or fears. However, stand firm with your goals and don’t succumb to your people’s worries or doubts. Let them know that even if they don’t believe they can do something, it can and will be done. Never let them quit before they’ve started.
Push back from outside vendors. What I’ve found is that you’ve got to manage your vendors properly, or they will manage you. For example, if you commit to a service agreement but then notice the vendor is failing to follow through or otherwise pushing back against that agreement, then you are no longer in control of a service you are paying for—a bad situation indeed! With every vendor you manage, there must be clear expectations as well as timelines and accountability associated with those expectations. Also, there must always be a lead person in that relationship. Never forget that person should be you.
How do you maintain your stand without being perceived as overbearing?