Is your 'passion' turning people off?
Monday, September 21, 2015
Posted by: Barbara Francella
By Neena Newberry
Passion motivates us to work hard, to innovate, to drive
changes and to accomplish more than we ever thought we could. However, when
overused, it can intimidate or drive people away. Is your passion working for
or against you?
One of my recent executive coaching clients is smart and
very passionate. "Erin" is a strong advocate for the people, ideas
and solutions she believes in. The irony is her passion was working against the
results she wanted to see.
Related: Is ambition standing in your way?
As I began coaching Erin, I learned that her communication
style could be problematic. When she was passionate about something, she would
talk a lot about it. In fact, she took so much air time that others felt like
she only cared about her own agenda. Because she had such a strong sense of
conviction about what she was communicating, she also had the tendency to frame
things as, "You’re either with me or against me.”
As you can imagine, others felt put off by her style. Even
though her passions were about helping others and doing the right thing for the
company, Erin came off as self-centered because she talked more than she
listened. And her "me against the world" tone made colleagues feel as
if they were always in win/lose situations with her. Few even recognized that
her passion drove a lot of her behavior.
To leverage the power of Erin’s passion, I started by
helping her get clear about what she wanted to be known for: her desired
leadership brand. She loves to teach others, bring innovative ideas forward and
build strong relationships -- she is passionate about all of these things.
Although these elements influence her approach and decisions on a daily basis,
she didn’t convey that in how she showed up with others. Realizing that she was
out of sync, Erin started to make some changes.
If your passionate style has been more of a stumbling block
than a catalyst for your own leadership, try some of these strategies:
your intent. Help your colleagues understand what this is really about and
the intended outcome. Avoid setting up options as "right" or "wrong."
curious. To foster buy-in, you have to know where others are coming from.
Listen more. Ask more questions. Seek to understand.
relationships.It’s not just about getting others to say "Yes" or
agree with you. It’s also about strengthening your relationships with them.
the venue. Talk to people one-on-one instead of in a group setting where
your style may make them feel more defensive.
The changes Erin put into action have made a huge difference
in how she is perceived and, consequently, her impact. Her boss told me that
he, other senior leaders and her peers now see her as more credible, confident,
capable and ready to take on more. Erin is still her passionate self — she’s
just expressing that passion in a way that works.
If Erin’s story resonates for you, I want to challenge you
to notice how you communicate when your passion runs high — and how others
react to you.
Newberry is an executive coach, speaker and author who helps
women "think and play big." A recognized expert with appearances on
CBS, ABC and Fox News, she received four Stevie Awards for Women in Business in
2014. A former Deloitte executive, she is president of Newberry Executive Solutions.
Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those
of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of
Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.
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