In a Zoom meeting, an executive, who was in a course with me eight years ago, claimed that the concepts associated with positive leadership changed his life. He shared what he thought was a particularly important example. He was in a meeting with his company’s largest client. The meeting was an intense negotiation and it was not going well.
In such situations he has trained himself to enter the fundamental state of leadership. He does this by asking himself four questions: What result do I want to create? Am I internally directed? Am I other focused? Am I externally open? Answering these questions allows him to self-elevate and to access new perspectives and strategies. This time an image came from the original course experience. It was a scene in which Gandhi transforms a conflictual meeting by positively disrupting expectations.
The image led him to act. He suggested that everyone take a break. He said, “When we come back, we are going to do ‘a whip-around.’ We are going to begin by having everyone share something for which they are grateful.” The reaction was shock. He said the lawyers were shaking their heads.
When they reconvened, he first modeled the sharing, and then asked each person to do the same. Some people spoke of intimate experiences. When the process finished the climate in the room was transformed, everyone was suddenly seeing everyone else as a human being.
In one hour the negotiation was complete and everyone was satisfied. The client CEO asked for an explanation of what happened and said he planned to use the process. Years later the client company is still my student’s largest customer. My former student said, “That one moment of leadership on my part did more for my career than any other.”
- Why does the conventional mind let negative processes play out?
- How did this person shift from a reactive to a proactive state?
- What changed and made it possible for the meeting to go so well?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?