While working with a group this week, one of the plant managers shared a story about something he was proud of as he’s grown his leadership skills. He really surprised himself by his ability to lead from the heart. It touched me, and I’d like to share it with you.

This gentleman, Jim, has been in the workplace for several decades and has a fairly established leadership style that I would describe as traditional. Jim has a warm heart, but it’s not something he’d likely share in his typical conversations at work.

Jim mentioned there were two team members who were really angry with how things were going in their department. As they grew increasingly angry, they became harder for people to work around. Jim and his supervisor were concerned, and they asked the two team members to come to a conference room to talk.

Not surprisingly, they became increasingly agitated at being asked to come have a private conversation. “Where are we going? Why are we being called into a meeting?” One of them asked.

“I know you’re unhappy with how things are going, and I want to figure out what’s wrong so you can be happy,” Jim answered.

The person was so taken aback that they couldn’t figure out what to say.

Jim put out there that his desire was for them to be happy, and that he was committed to dealing with the issues so they could be in a better frame of mind. It made all the difference. He was shocked at how easy the conversation went from there as they sat down, talked, and resolved the issues.

The moral of the story was that letting people know his intention to make people happy, rather than correct behavior, changed the dynamics of the conversation.

One of the things we talk about is always seeking to have conversations that don’t make people wrong. Imagine how things would have gone if Jim approached the conversation by telling these two how wrong they were. It likely wouldn’t go too well. Jim learned that speaking from the heart and sharing his intentions allowed things to shift from anger into getting things done.

He didn’t need to say, “Don’t you see that your anger is the problem?” In fact, I think all too often any of us can find it challenging to not make people wrong.

As Jim shared this story, it brought a tear to my eye. When I looked around at others in the group, they were deeply touched as well. What a powerful lesson in shifting into a positive approach. How have you learned to address situations and not make people wrong?

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