People work best when they build on what for them is solid ground. Certainly they develop by stretching themselves. But they must also clarify when they are getting into dangerous territory.
“I am great working on my solid ground, being with the people with whom I have a values fit,” said one person. “This makes-up 90% of my job.”
“But sometimes my role takes me into other territory. Then I meet people with whom there is a mismatch. My style probably upsets them because I speak and think differently. I don’t even look right!
“Sometimes they say things that are like a red flag. Feeling provoked, I speak out of turn. Although I only spend 10% of my time there, it is the dangerous ground where I make mistakes.”
Where for you is the solid ground? Where is the dangerous ground? Let’s explore how to deal with these different situations.
Clarify your solid ground
Try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe what for you is the solid ground. You feel comfortable in these situations, but also stretch yourself and do good work. You may be confident because three factors are in place:
* You know your subject.
* You know your audience and their agenda.
* You know how to succeed.
What are the situations where this happens for you? For example, you may be working on certain kinds of projects with certain kinds of people in certain kinds of places. You feel in at home – at ease and yet able to excel.
Try completing the following exercise. Describe the specific situations in which your feel on solid ground.
Clarify your dangerous ground
Describe what for you is dangerous ground. You feel uncomfortable in these situations where either:
* Your values don’t fit with the culture.
* Your communication style is too different.
* You may not respect the people and this occasionally slips through.
Sometimes you commit a cultural ‘sin’ and don’t even know you have done it.
Try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe the specific situations in which you feel on dangerous ground.
Clarify how to build on the solid ground
and deal with the dangerous ground
Great workers tend to stay on solid ground. They do what they do best in the places where they perform best. Frequently this happens after years spent trying to reach different audiences. At some point, however, they decide to focus on a particular target group.
Peak performers remain committed to constant improvement, however, but they do this in the places where their contribution is appreciated. Trying to change their offering to reach a different audience can become their own dangerous ground. It is important to connect with people, but not at the expense of diluting their ‘A’ talent.
So where do you work best? How can you reach more people with whom you have a values fit? How can you help them to succeed? How can you keep building on – and expanding – the solid ground?
What about the dangerous ground? How can you avoid putting yourself in these places? If you must do so, how can you prepare properly? How can you rehearse? How can you manage potentially difficult moments? How can you be super professional?
Try tackling the final exercise on this theme. First, describe how you can build on the solid ground. Second, describe how you can deal with the dangerous ground.