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Leadership Strategy: Always Take the High Road

July 15th, 2012   |   by Frank Addante

When you lead a business, moving forward and achieving results are always more important than being right.

Maybe it’s because I’m part-Italian.  Nothing boils my blood more than when I feel I’ve been wronged.  I always try hard to take the high road.  But it’s often far easier said than done.  I’ve learned that feeling wronged doesn’t necessarily mean that I am being wronged.

In building a business, your commitment to your will and patience is constantly tested.  While there are many, many good people in the world with good intentions, there are also some bad people, with bad intentions.  It can be hard to filter out the good from the bad.  Get burned a few times, and it’s easy to go into protective mode, and try to block yourself or your company from all the bad.  However, in doing that, chances are you’re blocking out a lot of good too.

Of course, you’re going to face differences of opinion.  You’re going to hire people that seem to have misrepresented their qualifications and skills.  And you’re going to outgrow an employee that you need to terminate, and she’ll feel like you misrepresented your intentions.  You may sign a contract in good faith with a business partner, and later find things have gone sideways, and both parties feel wronged.  Someone may fail to meet your expectations, or you may fail someone else’s.  These cases are almost guaranteed to happen in your professional and personal life.

It can be hard not to get emotional in these cases.  The feeling of being “wronged” is one of the hardest to overcome.  It feels personal.  Wars are started over differences in opinion or beliefs.  In these situations, I urge you to always, always, always take the high road.  Especially in business, moving forward and achieving results is always going to be more important than being right.

Looking back on my 14 years of building businesses, every single time I failed to take the high road, I regretted it.  It just really sucks in the end; there’s no better way to say it.  On the flip side, every time I took the high road, I felt satisfied, sometimes even surprised that I’m happy about the outcome.  You have to swallow your pride sometimes, and look past a disagreement or differences in opinion or beliefs.  I assure you it is worth it and you’ll see better results and greater peace of mind.

Conflict is one of the most difficult things for any manager or entrepreneur to handle.  Firing someone, avoiding tough conversations, suing or steam rolling someone is not dealing with conflict.  Dealing with conflict means directly addressing the difference in opinion or belief.  You and the other party have only two productive options: accept the other person’s position or find a compromise.  Mutual rejection is not a productive option.   You must keep dealing with the conflict until there is a mutual resolution: acceptance or compromise.  As you go through this process, always take the high road.  Take the time to understand the other person’s position, feelings and beliefs. “Put yourself in his shoes,” like you learned when you were a kid.  It’s a simple lesson, but a good one.



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