Overcoming Resistance

A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father? – Matthew 21: 28-31

My assumption is that we would all agree that the first son is the correct answer. Though he did not initially share the same vision as his father, he later reconsidered and fulfilled his father’s directive. As leaders, we must align ourselves and our teams with the organization’s vision. Once a directive has been given, it is our responsibility to begin assigning resources in order to accomplish it. Certainly this does not apply to any immoral or illegal directives; no “Just following orders” here!

Which response would you prefer from your team? While we may prefer the more agreeable response of the second son, consider how much harder it is to deal with the resulting disappointment that will ensue when our trust falls flat upon his insincerity. The response of the first son is initially hard to accept and may reflect a disengaged team member. But we must carefully determine if it is truly insubordinate or whether it stems from a legitimate objection. Maybe he is tired of working the vineyard; maybe he views himself as more productive than his brother, and is annoyed that his father doesn’t push his brother more. Regardless, the father doesn’t immediately react. Rather, he continues on and allows the son some time to reconsider.

I sometimes face an initially negative response from a team member who may not share my vision for a new project. If time permits, I allow him time to absorb my vision. Then we can usually discuss and address any true concerns he may have. There have been many instances where my initial plan was greatly improved through a team member’s input.

Not every interaction will be positive, but we must put forth our best efforts at understanding what lies beneath a negative one.


2 thoughts on “Overcoming Resistance

  1. Pete, of course, management style like this is what yields better results. As long as there is always a realization of who is the final decision-maker, like you said, “there have been many instances where my initial plan was greatly improved.”

    • Rob, you couldn’t be more correct! We are in a position of leadership for a reason, and we must never allow a disgruntled team member to usurp our authority. As I grew in leadership positions, I also grew in my ability to discern when I can allow a team member some time to process a situation. You certainly have to feel secure in your authority to practice this style of leadership.

      Thanks for commenting!

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