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How to Harness the Power of Forgiveness
Many, if not most, of today’s leaders have had at least one important working relationship that has gone bad and significantly impairs their leadership effectiveness. They avoid the other person, see him or her as their political enemy, and burn an inordinate amount of emotional energy when dealing with them. The other person is often an enigma and a point of continual frustration.
For these leaders, these relationships evoke deep visceral feelings that can be debilitating; significantly interfering with their ability to move their organizations forward.
Here’s a radical solution to this common problem: Great leaders are harnessing the power of forgiveness to repair broken working relationships. But the key is that they don’t offer forgiveness, they ask for it.
Human spirit is amazingly susceptible to a genuine request for forgiveness. I have seen old grudges forgotten, festering wounds healed and perpetual acrimony turn into thriving new alliances. This is the power of forgiveness. A few minutes of difficult, sometimes risky, conversation can repair a relationship that has been in ruin for years.
I challenge leaders to think about the two or three relationships that are holding you back. Then, meet each person in private, and ask for their forgiveness…and now here's the tough part…with no expectation of being asked for forgiveness in return.
I realize that this is not easy. It probably will be the most difficult thing you will do this week, maybe this year. You will need to summon up all of your courage and ignore for the moment the fact that you believe you really are the injured party.
By the way, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Being a leader means doing the tough stuff others will not do…and this is really tough stuff.
Gregg Thompson is the President of Bluepoint Leadership Development and author of Unleashed! – Expecting Greatness and Other Secrets of Coaching for Exceptional Performance. He has extensive experience as a business leader, operations manager, executive coach, facilitator and management consultant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in Networking Today, January 2008
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