What can a frying pan teach us about leadership? A whole lot it turns out.
To be a successful leader of improvements for moving forward, you need to develop a mental and emotional toughness. This toughness is required because you will find yourself stuck in the middle on many issues. You will feel like an Oreo® cookie, squeezed between two hard places.
Your Mindset Always Determines Your Success
Why do you need this leader mindset? Leading teams, projects and companies is hard!
Senior leaders may look to you for advice but may also treat you as a person without influence. Employees may feel threatened by the changes you institute. When you lead a cross functional team or project, employees who work for other managers may disrespect you or not cooperate. Other managers may disrespect members of your team. And one issue that we all face is that you are told “no!” when asking for much needed resources or budget dollars.
All these situations require that you stay tough and not allow your emotions to color your clarity and cooperation. Yet, you also must show your humanity and care. A High Road® leader builds bridges and maintains good relationships. They know that smooth relationships are crucial for being influential and having more impact. They do not burn bridges and / or see every interaction as a battle of personal agendas.
Teflon® Coated Toughness
I coined a term for this leader mindset using the metaphor of Teflon®, which is a material that holds up to heavy use and high temperatures. Yet, a Teflon® coating keeps a smoothness that prevents sticking and burning. By combining “Teflon®” with “Toughness” it describes an attitude of being supportive, concerned, and caring, yet being able to stay emotionally unattached.
Becoming Teflon® Coated Tough might seem hard. It is not! The best way to grow into this mindset is to have a plan and stick to it, with a determination that is like Teflon®.
May I offer five techniques that will help you learn how to use this vital mindset?
1) See each interaction with an employee as an opportunity to learn and make the pie bigger.
2) Say “tell me more” whenever someone makes a request or demand that seems unreasonable.
3) Ask, “how can we make this work for all of us?” whenever you are seeking a solution that satisfies everyone.
4) When you have to say, “no” do it with grace. Then say, “but here is what I think we (I) can do…”.
5) Find and use someone you trust to be honest as your sounding board. Every leader gets stuck in our own bubble that cannot see the forest for the trees.
Make these tools part of you and use them often.
When you carry the attitude of Teflon® Coated Toughness, you will see that people respond to you better and are more cooperative. You influence grows and you have more impact.
Remember: You always get what you believe and expect. So, expect the best! Always!
Speaking of Teflon®… A man I know tried to start a Teflon® church but the congregation slipped away.
A strip of Velcro® tried to date a Teflon® pan. They couldn’t connect.
[OK – I’ll stop the Grandpa jokes!]