In a cost saving move, two divisions of a national firm in two adjoining states were merged; one division large, the other much smaller. Aggie was selected to lead the marketing department for the new, larger division.
Her appointment surprised many people given that she worked in the smaller division and had been with the organization far less time than Nancy, the head of marketing in the larger division.
How Aggie handled the transition was a creative and positive leadership lesson.
The twelve marketing department members in the former large division made no secret that they were prepared to dislike Aggie and would give her the brush-off when she came to meet them. They said it didn’t matter that they had never met her. They said what mattered was that Nancy’s seniority hadn’t been honored which was how things used to be.
It was meeting day.
Aggie arrived with thirteen boxes, all beautifully wrapped and adorned with large bows. She asked her twelve new direct reports to join her in the conference room.
“Hi all, I’m Aggie, and delighted to meet all of you. I’m seriously hoping that you like chocolate candy as much as I do! Let’s spend the afternoon enjoying chocolates and getting to know one another. I’ll go first.”
Ellen bit into a chocolate, then smiled. She spent the next fifteen minutes describing her background; her hopes and joys, what made her smile and what made her frown; her favorite foods, colors and places to visit; and the antics of her two small children. There was no mention of marketing and mergers.
One by one, each of the twelve followed suit – savoring chocolates from the shared box and sharing about their life. Several hours later, each knew their colleagues better; and all thoughts of disliking Aggie were gone.
Each one took home a box of chocolates, filled with hope that their new leader was definitely the right choice to lead them into the future of this newly merged organization.
Have you encountered a similar circumstance? What did you do to win folks over so you could get down to business on friendlier terms?
For creativity to flourish [requires] the embrace of loss, the oldest and most constant of human experiences. ~Julie Burstein
There is a correlation between the creative and the screwball. So we must suffer the screwball gladly. ~Kingman Brewster
True intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found. ~Eckhart Tolle
Image source before quote: morgueFile.com