How to Handle a Loss of Control

As last week’s election evolved, it was hard to deny that only half of the people got their desired outcome.  And it got me thinking:  This happens at work a lot. Your team’s raises are denied because even though it’s been a good year, the one before wasn’t.  Or your team has to develop presentations for senior management that are onerous and seem based on your boss’s whims.  

What do you do when a decision or demand is not what you would have wanted? How do you deliver difficult messages to your team, or even go to work and feel a sense of control?  

A few principles come to mind

  • “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  A great one from Stephen Covey.  When you have to toe the line on a decision that wouldn’t have been yours, take time to ask questions and understand the intention you may not see.
  • Focus on your Circle of Influence rather than your Circle of Concern.  What can you control about the situation?  You don’t have to sell out, but you can expand your influence over a situation if you are willing to meet people half-way.
  • Commitment matters more than Consensus.  People often think that leadership means you’ve won everyone over to your point of view. Not necessarily. People are much more willing to do what’s good for the team if they feel like their opinion has been heard and their good intention recognized. So back to point #1, listen to everyone on the team. As a bonus, there may be aspects of another point of view that actually help deliver a better solution.

We are hard-wired to want a feeling of control over our situation. But even when external circumstances don’t go your way, being at choice is always possible.

To learn more about how I work with teams to help them stay motivated, reach out at:

Have a great week!


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