Three Leadership Lessons of Sequestration
The Washington Business Journal recently ran an article titled Bruised and battered: Five business lessons of sequestration. Since I'm stuck at home due to Winter Storm Saturn and taking a beating from deadlines, school closings and technology challenges, I thought I'd offer a few of my own business tips from the sequester.
Before I do, if you'll indulge me, I have a little rant I need to get out of my system. "Winter Storm Saturn"? When exactly did we start naming snowstorms? Take a look at the 2012-2013 list. Euclid? I was battered by the elements back in geometry class, so don't need any more proof of his destructiveness (look it up, non-math geeks). Khan? Well, I guess Ricardo Montalbán was in Neptune's Daughter, and that planet is only separated from Saturn by the source of this whole storm-naming idea. I know...sophomoric humor, but that brings us full circle to 10th grade geometry and sources of unnecessary pain.
So, what have we learned from the latest political stalemate, other than there is no royal road to bipartisanship? Here are my "Three Leadership Lessons of Sequestration."
- Negotiation is about compromise. That's Business 101. While you obviously want to achieve a favorable outcome for yourself, you shouldn't expect to dig in your heels and demand that the other side bend over backwards while you refuse to give an inch. Negotiation is built on a foundation of trust. If you enter into it in bad faith, you're derailing the process before it even has a chance.
- It's okay to disagree, but you still have to get the job done. Productive conflict can improve your results, but if you don't look for common ground, you'll leave everyone adrift. Just because another person or organization doesn't agree with every one of your positions, don't make the mistake of assuming that there are no common interests you could pursue more effectively through collaboration.
- Small changes at the top disproportionately affect the rest of the organization. Have pay and benefits been frozen or slashed for your workforce over the past few years? How many employees could have gotten that cost of living increase if you hadn't fought so hard to retain those bonuses for your senior management team? Shaving a little bit off for top earners may be just a few percentage points, but for employees at a lower pay grade, many of whom say they aren't adequately compensated to begin with, that money can make a big difference.
As Jill Aitoro points out in the WBJ article that inspired this post, "Lessons typically come in retrospect." So, in closing, here's a bonus one for you. Don't chase the latest fad or buzzword. "Snowquester"? I'm a big fan of word play and even I think that's trying too hard.
Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/matka_Wariatka
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