top of page
  • benjaminnewman01

Mod. 6.4 - Leaders Q&A

Assume you are (working on) living and leading from your Natural Paradigm, and you have been striving to establish the Natural Paradigm as part of your organization's culture. That is going pretty well, but many people you and your colleagues engage with are very much operating from the Conventional Paradigm — including some in your own organization. Your people want advice on how to deal with specific situations that they have run into.


For each of the situations below, provide your advice in written form or video yourself responding as if you were talking to the people who asked the questions. You can assume that they are familiar with the elements of the Conventional and Natural Paradigms. Be sure to briefly describe the organization that you are leading for context.

  • Every time I pitch a new idea or potential strategy to our collaborators, they inevitably respond with, "That would never work", then use up the rest of our meeting time telling me why it would never work.

  • We've been making good progress on our community project; however, I'm concerned that we won't be able to finish it before funding runs out.

  • I know we're trying to manage about a dozen good projects, but I really feel like my project should be prioritized because I have seniority.

  • I just discovered a new non-profit that is working in the exact same space that we are. Their website looks amazing compared to ours. What should we do?

 

Every time I pitch a new idea or potential strategy to our collaborators, they inevitably respond with, "That would never work", then use up the rest of our meeting time telling me why it would never work.

I have had similar experiences in many of my past jobs. What’s a bit different though is that my collaborators were too nervous to say no, so they would say yes, but then not follow through. I was supposed to read between the lines to understand when they said yes, they didn’t actually mean yes. They just don’t want to be someone who says no and run the risk of being seen as a negative person. In your situation, it seems your collaborators have a clear sense of what will work, because they are so clearly sure that your new idea or strategy will not work. Their resistance reflects a mentality that assumes there’s only one way to operate, that is at the root of their model of success. Even though you want them to be successful, a new way of operating creates fear because of the unknown and could open them up to failure. For people accustomed to this model, failure is to be avoided at all costs. Even if the operating model is failing and will not be sustainable long term, the previous years of success support continuing to operate in the same ways.


My recommendation is to do some research into their goals and priorities. Then, once those are clear, use their language to frame how your idea fits into and supports their goals and priorities. I sometimes think the true purpose of meeting with partners is to translate language. Sometimes we use the same words, but they might not mean the same thing. I could say I’m a “conservative” or a “liberal” but outside of a general framework, you don’t really know what that means. So if you’re going to try and collaborate with someone who also identifies as “liberal”, it’s important to understand how they define that word by asking clarifying questions to glean from them the values and priorities that underpin that word. I also encourage people to ask clarifying questions through the lens of a compliment or positive attribute. Something like, “I really love what you said about how important liberal values are to you. Where did that passion come from?” In this way, you demonstrate active listening, curiosity, and begin to put some context around the synergy you share. In my experience, very often people come in with goodwill and a desire to collaborate, but what is unclear, and rarely addressed, is how to navigate putting that goodwill into practice. If you’re able to frame your goals and the value of the partnership in their terms, you may find there is greater synergy than you originally thought. Of course, you may also find the opposite. In which case, you will start to learn how to read between the lines and discern if they are actually the right partner to work with.


We've been making good progress on our community project; however, I'm concerned that we won't be able to finish it before funding runs out.

I’m glad to hear that you've been making good progress on your community project. Funding challenges are always hard and can be stressful to manage. I’m curious if you have some ideas about how to manage the situation so you can complete the project? I have a few thoughts you might consider to help get you across the finish line. First, assess your current budget and spending. Are there areas where you might be able to cut costs without compromising the project? Are there any opportunities to use more affordable suppliers or negotiate discounts on certain elements? If so, that might create a bridge to other potential funding sources. In kind donations in return for promoting a local business might generate new relationships that you can build on long term. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or GoFundMe can also be a good option for raising funds from a wider audience. You may also consider if there are ways to streamline your project and focus on the most important aspects. I’m sure you’ve identified the key goals of your project. I wonder if you can still achieve the most important goals even if you have to scale back other parts of the project.


I am someone who doesn’t like to take no for an answer because I’ve found that in most scenarios, most people don’t consider all of the options, they make a plan and if it doesn’t work, they put it to rest and move on to the next one. For me that’s like taking an incomplete course, but in this case, an incomplete affects more than just you, because your project probably has great potential to positively impact your intended recipients. With perseverance, resilience, and creativity, it's often possible to find a way forward. Trust that the resources needed will emerge, and lead your time with confidence. This will allow the project to continue its trajectory while you figure out next steps. Good luck!


I know we're trying to manage about a dozen good projects, but I really feel like my project should be prioritized because I have seniority.

It makes sense that you would like your project to be prioritized, especially if you have seniority within the organization. I am curious to learn more about how you all are prioritizing your projects. A dozen projects probably have some overlap with one another. Have you talked to the other project managers about any synergistic components that could be beneficial to multiple projects without having to repeat the process or use double the time and resources? It can be hard when a company says they’re very “team oriented” but in reality, many companies are structured in a way that puts coworkers at odds with each other in order to move up the ladder. This scarcity mindset is often built into business models without people even realizing it’s there. Here are a few ideas you could consider that might help you to get your project done, collaborate with your coworkers rather than compete with them, and support accomplishing all of the projects at the same time.


As the saying goes “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Said another way, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” Your success doesn’t have to mean their failure, and vice versa. You can work to create an environment that supports healthy competition by finding ways to align with one another. Think about how your project aligns with the overall mission and goals of the organization. Is it a critical component of the organization's success, or is it one of many projects that contribute to the overall mission? Understanding the organization's priorities and your roles in realizing them can help you make a strong case for what you bring to the table with other project managers. Also be prepared to communicate the value and importance of your project in terms that are inclusive of the other project managers, instead of separate from them. Provide data, evidence, and KPIs and look for synergistic points of overlap. Remember to be flexible. It can be tempting to approach this from a one size fits all framework. The goal here is to both accomplish all of the projects and foster a culture of collaborating with others towards everyone’s mutual goals and success.


I just discovered a new non-profit that is working in the exact same space that we are. Their website looks amazing compared to ours. What should we do?

Competition presents an opportunity, not a threat in my view. If another company or person is doing the same work as us but we have more experience, that means we are doing something right and have the upper hand. Remember, imitation is the highest form of flattery. In the meantime, your goal here isn’t to convince your boss of how great you are, it’s to provide answers and solutions to their concern, so let’s focus on that element. Then, when you go to share this information with them, you can sprinkle in some of those highlights along the way. To begin, you should evaluate your website. Take an honest look at your website and identify what areas might need improvement and ask other team members which areas they think need improvement, or if they have received feedback from users about areas in need of improvement. Look at the new nonprofit's website for inspiration and ideas, but don't copy their content or design. Identify what sets you apart and make sure those elements are clearly represented on your website. Think about what unique value your organization provides to its beneficiaries. Review your mission, values, programs, and impact to differentiate yourself from the new organization.


That is important for any company to do, regardless of competition, but I want to encourage you to go one step further and consider reaching out to the new organization to explore opportunities for collaboration or partnership. You might discover opportunities to share resources or expertise, or ways where you can work together on joint projects that are mutually beneficial. Building strong relationships with other organizations in your field can benefit both your organizations and the people you serve because it reinforces the “why” behind each of your group’s work and helps keep the target audience or beneficiaries as the primary stakeholders. Competition can be healthy because it requires that we turn the mirror back on ourselves to improve. By being open and proactive, you can demonstrate resilience and trust in your group’s work without getting distracted by another group’s efforts.

1 view0 comments

Comments


Post: Blog2 Post
bottom of page