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Home Forum Access Levels Community Wisdom & Skills Survey Compromise: An Under-appreciated Hidden Skill

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    Often, when we think of compromise as adults, we automatically think it is bad. We think in terms of values, actions, intentions, or integrity being inexplicably attached to some watered-down ineffective version that is “compromised” just to get along with someone else or gain popularity. It comes across as being a weasely attribute of weakness and lack of inspiration. Yes, those interpretations can be true. But compromise is more complex and powerful than that! It is also the key to activating vision. It is the key to negotiation. And finally, it is the key to effective leadership. Leaders need the skill of compromise to win.

    Every aspiring leader has a grand vision to move forward and a desire to take others with him or her. That vision is shared with others and, depending upon the charisma of either the leader or his/her message, a few others will attach themselves to it and support the leader by becoming his/her inner circle dedicated to share that vision. But everyone else is not on-board. Others remain on the scale of skeptical or kindly dismissive (at least) and derisive or demotivatingly obstructive (at most). Compromise is the skill that allows the leader and his/her inner circle to listen to the deeper priorities and risks that others see as most important to them. It is the openness to reinterpret and communicate a particular vision in a more meaningful manner to “outsiders.” This can be powerful for leaders who feel they are in a vacuum where they alone and noone else seems to be understanding them or their ideas. Compromise is what activates a leader’s vision in a real rather than a theoretic environment in a way that prevents him/her from becoming bitter over the ones who “just don’t get it”. No, they are not stupid, dear leaders. They just need you to enact the skill of compromise so that they can understand its relevance to them! Compromise is the cracked door that allows interaction with others who don’t buy into his/her vision yet.

    Secondly, compromise is the key to negotiation. Some leaders are so willfully attached to their visioin that they worship it to their own detriment. The leader him/herself thinks s/he is exhibiting the most outstanding upright virtue, conviction, and strength by holding the vision intact. Everyone else sees it as the leader having an I-am-right-you-are-wrong complex, which repels them and silences their concerns, some of which may be highly relevant. As we discussed earlier, compromise helps leaders activate their vision in reality. But compromise also allows leaders (and their inner circle) to dress the vision for which battles to fight in order to win their war. Successful negotiation means knowing what the essentials of the vision are that cannot be compromised under any circumstances, while placing every other high and lofty aspiration, plan, and achievement in a large preferential working space. Losing one item if the leader and his/her inner circle gain four other preferences is not a bad deal. And if the opposing negotiator gets an essential of what s/he wants, then both parties have won and elevated their reputations in unison. Compromise helps leaders determine the difference between a vision’s collateral damage, which wins the ultimate intended essentials at a slight cost, and deadly losses that weaken the essentials of the vision, its leaders, and its supporters.

    Compromise is a skill that makes leaders effective. Leaders are not leaders if no one is following them or the vision they espouse. Ineffective leaders will eventually begin to hemmorage people by their rigidity. Growth, however, involves change. And leaders who embrace change means that they examine their original vision and evolve it along with its proponents. In some rare and isolated cased, one might find that the entire vision must be altered or replaced, but mostly organizations and leaders need only to adjust for new opportunities. Think of the old typewriter companies, IMB, Kodak, and Xerox holding fast to their visions and failing to embrace the new paradigms of home computers, digital photography, or printing innovations. On a smaller scale, it might mean that the nonprofit’s target group no longer needs the same help they did and another organization does what they need better (eg, find another target group or change the work being done) or a solopreneur jeweler who find that big stores have glutten the market with what they provide and they must innovate to create more differentiation. These are all examples of how leaders use compromise to gain insight into their effectiveness to move forward with their vision into a new paradigm.

    Leaders need the skill of compromise to win. In utilizing it well, leaders gain vision relevance, partnership power, and innovative growth. And how does one compromise well? Aha! Therein lies the rub, as Shakespeare wrote. It lies in what the vision’s differentiation is – that which distinguishes a vision and makes it special. That is two-parts market research, six-parts community interaction, and one-part each of leadership courage and communication. No one can do it alone.

    A-Squared LAMP groups is built upon these realities. Our group development memberships are designed to help leaders focus on their particular market mix, build interactive communities outside of their own inner circles of supporters, and to work with safe accountability on their own leadership skills. We want our groups to launch and grow in a successful way that is marked with real wins and longevity. That is our essential vision. Everything else has some wiggle room to help you and meet needs wherever they may be.


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