Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Leadership as Practice

I've been struggling with starting this post...part of my hesitancy is fear that I'm not really qualified to write about this, but then, I have been, and still am, a leader within a growing community. On the other hand, I sometimes do it very poorly.

Just this weekend, there's been a row about the website I built and launched for the SeattleIntegral community. Perhaps my first mistake was asking for input. Boy, did I get it! On the other hand, again, we only had about 3 people out of almost 150 members, who were complaining about the website. Now, in my regular job as a graphic artist, I know that about 10% of the people are going to complain no matter what you do. 3 out of 150 is a whole lot less than 10%, so I know I must have done a pretty good job. Not perfect, but good. After all the website, like me, is a work in progress.

The issue with leadership comes up with the question of how one responds when face with pure criticism and no support? Like most people, I am sorely tempted to lash out in response, utterly and completely destroying the infidel complainer(s) for their impertinence. There was a time when I would have done that without a second thought.

This is not that time.

One of the things I've learned over the past few years is that I'm not going to change minds by lashing out. It only makes me look bad, as well, and runs the risk of losing any support that might exist. People know when someone is lashing out, and people generally know the difference between constructive criticism offered with love and compassion, and de-constructive criticism, offered with an agenda and shadow.

At the same time there is the issue of "idiot compassion." We all know what that is: self-indulgence of thinking that you are creating a compassionate situation when in fact you are feeding the other person's aggression. So how do you respond? Damn! A paradox!

What I'm trying to become better at is to take my time in my responses...to lead from a place of wisdom instead of reaction. I try to take the time to ask myself, "How would I respond if I were truly second tier?"

Do that enough times and it becomes a habit...engrained and manifested in your being. Another case of "practice makes perfect."

Or, in this case, at least a little better today than I was yesterday

1 comment:

Tom Mull said...

=)