One of the Vistage Chairs I work with recently expressed concern that he might be “over-chairing.” The term caught my attention as it seemed to be another name for over-managing, over-parenting, or any number of other over-lording situations.
That set me to reflecting on the behaviors I have observed over the last couple of decades of working with Chairs, leaders and parents and there seems to be common traits and mindsets driving them. Most common of all is the often delusionalbelief that tightly controlling the conversations, processes and relationships will produce desired high-quality outcomes. Generally, this assumption is false. It is driven by your needs versus the recipients’ wishes and points-of-view.
The delusional dimension is that you can be comfortable in your belief that you are doing your best and assuring the best outcomes, even in the face of data to the contrary. In the case of children, (especially teens), the contrary outcomes may be multiple while you continue to assert your right to say how it should go. Good luck with that!
So what’s really going on and what is actually being assured? First, you can continue to ignore what’s before your eyes and feel comfortable that you are doing your best. Second, you can avoid the discomfort that your best is not necessarily producing your desired outcomes. Third, you can avoid the discomfort or downright fear of having to "dance with the unknown” by including the other party as an equal partner in solutions, strategies and processes that get implemented. It’s unknown since you lose control of the outcome and probably have little to no idea of how to get to a productive outcome in such a dynamic.
Another discomforting dimension is that your “shame," or “original wound” will jump up and the seemingly real threat that you will be judged as your own personal version of worthless or incompetent.
A powerful antidote that will give you the capacity to dive headlong into the unknown is our Productive Dialogue Zone (more about this in our book, "Accelerate"). Working with that approach, you will be required to articulate your vision or desired outcome for the conversation, summon the courage to go forward as you let go of how and when, be sure you are staying connected or in relationship with the other, and also challenging or confronting the issue(s) as you see it. Notice I said confronting the issue(s), not the person. Confronting the person has them withdraw from the relationship and you will have lost your ability to partner in producing the best possible outcome.
Study the model, summon the courage, and start letting go. Practice on easier challenges until you gain facility with engaging in Productive Interactions. Enjoy new and unexpected outcomes.