I recently shared a laugh with a client – we’ll call him Jon – because as he so eloquently said, “You just can’t win.” Here’s what happened.
Jon, by profession an accountant, is head of tax for a global manufacturing company. A lovely human being, he is nevertheless analytical and cerebral, and a 360-degree feedback process revealed that his people perceived him to be cold and unapproachable.
We worked together on practicing some new behaviors: making the effort to get to know folks, stopping to say hello to people in his area – all of whom report to people who report to him.
He worked on and shared his Leadership Point of View (his beliefs about leadership and his leadership values) which his people told him made him much more accessible.
Jon was really enjoying letting people see a little more of him, he was having more fun at work, he was literally wondering what took him so long to experience this very important side of himself.
You would think this could only be good right?
I certainly did.
But, you can never underestimate the power of change, even good change, to distress someone. Not everyone was thrilled with the change. One of Jon’s direct reports, Emilia, asked for a private meeting during which she reported that she was upset with this new softer, friendlier Jon.
He was shocked – of all people he had thought she would appreciate it the most.
It turns out that she was enjoying the change for herself, but she was worried that Jon’s new accessibility was “undermining” her position with her direct reports. She was concerned that people might feel comfortable going straight to Jon instead of having to get things done through her.
Of course this presented a great coaching opportunity for Jon. But we had to laugh…I had thought in 25 years of coaching that I had heard everything, but this was a first.