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Early in my career I viewed neutrality as weakness.
The term “fence sitter” comes to mind.
Make up your mind… pick a side.
I felt safe and strong knowing what team I was on.
Fast forward to today and my leadership style looks very different.
Because scaling has taught me one thing above all.
Neutrality is critical to effective leadership.
Neutral means open. Maximally curious. The widest possible field of gaze.
From that vantage point, greater possibilities present themselves.
Things you never could have seen with a more rigid frame.
Consider the time I almost ended my career early.
I was trying to get LeadSimple off the ground and got cheeky with a marketing stunt.
It backfired spectacularly and I became certain it was unrecoverable.
Fair to say I was invested in being right about how bad the situation was.
My “woe is me” lens made rumination and shame a way to atone for what I'd done.
I was prepared to suffer my way out - which isn’t really a thing.
What I needed at that moment was possibilities, solutions, approaches, countermeasures… useful action.
But my mind was closed. I was certain. It was over.
A closed mind filters out the things it can’t hold or handle.
Across all the companies I interact with. The #1 driver of poor performance is being unwilling to look at the dysfunctional part of the org.
Too polite, too conflict avoidant, too unwilling to break rapport in service of something bigger than just getting along.
Unfortunately, it’s the things you are unwilling to face that defeat you.
The uncomfortable conversation.
The information you’re holding back because you dread the reaction.
The dysfunction that accrues the longer you avoid talking about X.
That’s where neutrality matters most.
Right when I’m getting triggered.
Hooked into emotion.
If I can judo flip my judgements, and get off my bullshit - a lot opens up for me.
Because the things that trigger me most hold the greatest potential for my growth.
Remaining neutral allows me to press deeper into hard conversations.
Suspending certainty long enough to sift fact from figment of my imagination.
Holding up to the light my self-flattering version of the story.
Questioning my willingness to be right at the expense of a relationship.
Never passive, never indifferent.
Always open and curious without predetermined judgment.
Is this easy?
Do I do this all the time?
Does it universally improve outcomes when I hold the pose?
In closing, I have a question.
What triggers you friend?
What conversation are you avoiding?
I’m always here to talk.
P.S.S. - A brief history of Quiznos’ collapse < I’m a sucker for this kind of content.
Industry news and updates:
- Appreciate Holdings (formerly RentersWarehouse) received notice regarding delisting due to the stock price not meeting listing criteria.
- Randall Henderson has joined RentVine as COO. He’ll crush there.
- PMMCon 2024 has been canceled.
- Data from AppFolios 8-K filing. Revenue up 32% while unit count is up 10% YOY. Core solutions (core, plus and IM) at 24% of rev vs 74% driven by value added services (payments, applications, insurance, websites, etc.). They’ve turned the corner on profitability even with one time severance costs. Stock is near an all time high and they’re hiring. Positive signs.
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