This past Tuesday, President Trump’s firing of John Bolton as the National Security Adviser has stirred up many opinions, both supporting the decision and opposing it.
The exact process of Bolton’s exit is uncertain (Bolton claims he had handed in his resignation the day prior to the president announcing his firing), but what is clear is that there was plenty these two could not agree on. Bolton disagreed on actions such as Trump’s efforts to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. He operated differently from the president, and as stated by the Deputy White House Press Secretary, “His priorities and policies don’t line up with the president’s.”
Having worked as a former aide to Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, Bolton had come in with a wealth of experience that many were sorry to see leave. While at the same time, several commentators feel this new development may contribute to an all-around more safe national security. Unfortunately, Bolton’s role as the National Security Adviser lasted just over a year. While there are endless factors and opinions that contribute to whether Bolton would benefit or hinder the future of our current administration, one thing is certain: he and the president could not see eye to eye.
There is a fine line between working differently from one another and working in opposition. While there are often ways our human nature wants to react to the opposition of opinion, as a leader it’s our job to operate above this natural inclination. When working with a team, leading a wide range of personalities does not come to most of us overnight — specifically when there are tensions or differences of views involved. But it can be done. Here are five ways to lead when opposition arises:
- Hire slow. First, hire slow and hire right. Be certain who you have selected is the right fit for the job. Particularly in the case of a transition, or in the rush of looking for a role to be filled, never hire quickly.
- Learn to adapt. New personalities and points of view can only strengthen your team as a whole. You hired this different perspective for a reason. Learn to adapt and listen.
- Reframe your opposition from holding you back. Realize opposition is a catalyst that leads to clarity of purpose, mission, and vision. Your employees are not out to work against you; otherwise, why would they choose to work for you? In leadership, sometimes the most efficient way to be propelled to a clearer goal is in the face of opposition. So before you backfire, consider it an opportunity to refine the ultimate vision for you and your team.
- Recognize a mountain from a molehill. There will always be moments when different perspectives bring frustration. So when the issues do come up that you do not agree with, navigate the difference between a mountain and a molehill. Learn how to identify one from the other, and invest your efforts between the two wisely.
- Appreciate the value of diverse thinking. Learn to use this broad scope of perspective and opinions to your benefit. If everyone was just like you, thought like you, analyzed like you, and led like you, your team might not be as far ahead as you may think. Celebrate and consider it an asset that your team is made up of more than just one thought.
We may never know the details of President Trump and Bolton's working relationship that led to where it stands now.
In our own workplace it’s not only a chance to lead our team to a resolve, but an opportunity to listen to the many perspectives and life experiences that are represented. In the end, opposition is purely an opportunity for us to step up in our leadership.
Dr. Kent Ingle serves as the President of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, and is the author of "Framework Leadership." A champion of innovative educational design, Ingle is the president of one of the fastest growing private universities in the nation. As president, Ingle founded the American Center for Political Leadership at the university and is also a founding member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. Before becoming Southeastern’s president in 2011, Ingle held leadership positions in higher education and the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle. Ingle is the author of several leadership books and the creator of the Framework Leadership podcast. He currently serves on the board of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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