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Two Four Six Hate

"I may not have the capacity to love everyone, but I do have the capacity to act as if I do and run my business accordingly..." -Agnes Golden (character in The Radical Leap Re-Energized)

For once, I really wasn't trying to be difficult or contrarian. Really. But nonetheless, I caught the workshop leader off-guard.

I just recently became certified in Steve Farber's Extreme Leadership Institute. So now I am able to deliver his content to my clients, and it's a very exciting prospect. I've been a huge fan for years. But more on that to come in a near-future blog post. While we were going through the certification process, we were spending a great amount of time talking about the first cornerstone of Farber's tenets: Love (the 'L' in LEAP). The love thing is important. It's in the Extreme Leader's Credo: "Do what you love in the service of those who love what you do." It permeates everything an extreme leader is about.

So when I brought up the topic of hate, it sort of shocked our facilitator. But then I explained myself a little. The extreme leader isn't out to specifically make somebody else hate them. We want to love our work, love our coworkers, love our customers, love our projects. But in the process of cultivating love and acting audaciously as we pursue the OS!M, one can't help but have hate as a natural by-product.

2012-11-Creating-Passionate-UsersHuh? Love produces hate? Absolutely. A few years ago, I used Kathy Sierra's branding graphic to talk about personal branding as it applied to gender in the work place, but her model applies universally. If we're going to love, and if we're going to seek to be passionately loved by others, then "hate" will be a natural consequence from the people who not only don't "love what you do"; they're dead-set against it. But the key point is: they've noticed you and what you're doing. You registered with them. You got their attention by being an extreme leader.

But here's where some people break-down in their attempts to be extreme leaders; they aren't comfortable being hated. They want to be liked. By everybody. So they don't act audaciously. They don't prove themselves. And they cop out on love for a mild form of "like" that has all the energetic impact of warm milk.

But in listening to the stories shared by other workshop attendees over the two-day period, and especially hearing the inspiring story from Simon Billsberry, formerly of Kineticom, it became evident that an extreme leader can't love passionately WITHOUT allowing hate to be a natural by-product, either expressing hate for the non-leadership behaviors and values, or inspiring hate from others who don't embrace extreme leader values and behaviors.

I've experienced it more than once on a client site. I bring my own unique (ahem) brand of project management to the table, but I do so to get results and jar my clients from their old habits. But in so doing, I've turned off more traditionally-minded champions of the status quo... some of whom I've won over, but some of whom end up passionately hating my approach... and sometimes me personally. And I've learned to be OK with it. Why? Because there are others who love the results and accomplishment I bring to the table. And then I get to do what I love in the service of those who love what I do... in spite of those who hate what I do.

In your quest to be loved, are you comfortable being hated? I hope so.

Linkin' Lincoln

Lincoln-Movie-PosterOver the holiday break, my wife and I ventured to the theater to catch a showing of Lincoln. First, I have to say it's great to FINALLY have children who are old enough to allow my wife and me to start enjoying movies again (at least ones that don't involve an animated princess of some sort). Second, my wife knows me well enough to sell me on these kinds of films before we go, and she didn't disappoint. She convinced me this movie would provide some great parallels to office politics. Finally, the movie was well made, and I predict many oscar nominations across the board.

But back to the office politics connection. Many of my clients are put in positions of selling ideas - BIG ideas - to their organizations. Sometimes there is popularity and support across the board. Other times, it's a mixed bag. Often, they are faced with a mountain of opposition.

The office politics lessons and affirmations abounded, and this movie reaffirmed why Lincoln's legacy as a leader continues to live on:

  1. Timing is everything - while many thought it best to hold off on such a vote, Lincoln looked at the big picture and saw potential failure in waiting until the war was over. Many often confuse assumed urgency with real urgency. Ask yourself what's driving the need for your accomplishment before rearranging others' priorities.
  2. Watch the message - Representative Thaddeus Stevens understood this when publicly cornered over his views on slavery and racial equality. Sometimes we can say what we really mean and other times we have to temper it in order for our accomplishments to succeed. Walking that fine line between truth and success is tricky.
  3. Divide and conquer - Approaching all the lame duck Democrats at once would have resulted in failure, so William Seward orchestrated persuasive tactics one at a time. In order to sell others on our accomplishments, it can be useful to approach opponents when nobody else is around to derail the efforts... and in such a way that there is something in it for them.
  4. Watch the home front - both Lincoln's wife and son provided plenty of distraction for him throughout the film. Often when dealing with political issues, we become so entrenched that we let other things slide. Remain mindful of EVERYTHING going on around you, even if you can't take action on it at that moment.
  5. Keep calm and carry on - only once or twice did the character of Lincoln have to raise his voice in this movie, and those times were generally with his allies. All others saw the humble lawyer from Illinois. People generally respect a voice of reason over a Chicken Little-esque squawk. Be careful on your delivery in highly emotional situations.

All in all, it was a couple of hours well spent in the theater. And it was easy to see why Abraham Lincoln still holds our attention 150 years later.

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