Five Good Reasons to Challenge the Heirarchy

Ira Chaleff has spent a lifetime coaching and working with executives on issues of courage. He believes that part of being a good follower, and a hallmark of true followership, is to stand up and challenge our leaders when we disagree with their principles, motivations, or actions.

Sure, it's easier to keep a low profile and not draw attention to yourself, but Ira warns us why taking that route leads to its own share of problems by presenting the five solid reasons why you should speak up to authority when the situation warrants it:

1) Because “boss” is just what you call him or her. Underneath the title is a human being. All human beings are fallible, including you. You’re not challenging the boss’s position, just the blind spot. Helping each other see the limitations in our thinking or the blind spots in our actions helps each of us to be better.

2) Because you believe in the mission of the organization and want it to succeed. If the boss, or the boss’s boss’s boss is contemplating an action based on an inaccurate assessment of the situation, your speaking up can prevent setbacks to the mission. This is good, right?

3) Because you have the courage to live by your values. If we compromise our values enough we cease being proud of who we are. You want to be proud of yourself, don’t you? Living with integrity takes courage.

4) Because no one else is going to do it. We wait for others to step in to the line of fire so that we can piggy-back on them to lessen any negative consequences of speaking up. That’s a problem — everyone is waiting for someone else to step up first, so no one does. The ship goes down.

5) Because it earns you respect from both your colleagues and your bosses. Your boss may not like hearing your challenge, but as long as he or she is not clinically paranoid, a strong boss will respect you for speaking up. So will your colleagues. You might even get promoted. If you do, remember to be a courageous boss.

Thoughts? Reactions? Chime in.


Five Ways To Cool the Air

Working towards resolving issues or problems can be awkward at first given the raw emotions involved. Author Stewart Levine, no stranger to the negotiation field as a professional consultant, negotiator, and former lawyer, has five key things to observe for a productive and supportive exchange:

1.Don't be so quick to blame or make someone the enemy. Surprisingly, most conflict is not the result of any kind of negative intention but miscommunication or misperception. Because we are all different in our approach to conflict, we need to agree clearly at the beginning as to exactly what the issue is. Inexact language only encourages conflict, so before you start assuming the worst of the other person, make sure you’re understanding the issue at heart.

2. When you are feeling stress, ask for a "time out" until you have your emotions under control. Conflict provokes a stress reaction. Before you can engage in meaningful collaborative dialogue, you must manage your stress. You’d be amazed what five minutes and a glass of cool water can do to reduce the tension.

3. The most powerful form of negotiating is to ask them what they want and create a way to give it to them. And let them know what you want and ask them to work on getting you what you want. Yes, it sounds a lot easier than it is, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t approach conflict mediation with this simple attitude that can make all the difference in the outcome.

4. Conflict lives inside each of us as a story -- it's the way we talk to ourselves about the situation. For both catharsis, and to share details, everyone involved should have their chance to tell their story from beginning to end (as should you), without interruption. And tell the whole story. Withholding vital information never works so you might as well let it all out and deal with it.

5. It’s tempting to try and end a mediation quickly by addressing only a few superficial issues and then concluding the exchange to escape the tension inherent to such meetings. Don't do it. The goal is always to reach a new agreement for the future and not for the present, otherwise the issues will just come up again. Think in terms of a long term resolution, not a short term transaction. Thinking long term will help you to create a sustainable relationship that can last longer and weather the bumps that are part of any partnership.

Remember: almost all conflict is emotionally motivated. The same emotional triggers prevent the resolution of conflict. Deal with the emotion and whatever the conflict was about will resolve itself.

Do you agree with Stewart? Do you have any insights or comments? Chime in below.


Five Things You Didn't Know About Killer Whales

Killer Whales have always gotten a bad rap (and the name doesn't help). But, as trainers and authors Thad Lacinak and Chuck Tompkins will tell you, they're a lot more interesting than they are threatening. Here are five quick facts that you probably never knew about them:

1. They’re Not Whales. Killer whales are dolphins, not whales. The term “Killer Whale” is actually a corruption of a Spanish Basque term meaning “Whale Killer.” Orcas (as they are also called) will, on occasion, hunt whales for food.

2. They Have to Think About Breathing 24/7. Orcas are active breathers, which means that every breath they take is a conscious act – in other words, they have to remember to breath.

3. They’re Not Killers Either – Of Humans Anyway.
There has never been a single confirmed report of an Orca killing a human in the wild.

4. They Don’t Sleep. Orcas don’t sleep – at least, not the way other animals do, because they are active breathers. Orcas “sleep” by shutting down only one hemisphere of their brain at a time, thereby allowing them to both rest in cycles while maintaining control over their breathing.

5. Mama Calls the Shots. Resident Orcas live and travel in groups or pods strictly organized along lines of maternal relatedness. Studies of resident killer whales have been able to identify maternal lineage through the tight bond between mother and offspring. Paternal lineage is unknown. Many of these groups are families that contain up to four generations of whales, consisting of three to nine individuals.

Thoughts? Reactions? Sudden urge to Tivo Animal Planet?