“Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering”
It’s still tough in many markets, the pressure is on, perhaps this really is the new normal… But many aren’t realizing or accepting it, and others are struggling to cope. When a cool head is required, ensuring the team is engaged behind a new or revised vision and strategy, other things are occurring.
A common response, driven by fear of the unknown, or of failure, is the knee jerk reaction: short term, drastic, emotional. Demanding more of employees, which can be ok if there is headroom for them to step up. And demanding more of business partners, which should be expected, as improvement through competition is at the core of capitalism’s drive for progress.
There is danger though. Some blame others, take their anger out on them and transfer the pressure they feel directly to their counterpart. What they forget (or ignore) is that the other party has pressures and principles that drive their business too. If you are bound together by mutual commercial ties then the other party is likely to want to help you. But if you just beat up on them, you may spark a rebellion.
Your business relationship may have taken years to build. Beware of throwing it away in an instant. ‘I don’t care’ you might think, ‘I have the power to take things transactional’. Relationships based on trust tend to yield the most long-term value. Trust is a valuable thing; and it takes time to build, based on actions rather than words. Your aggressive actions will damage trust, leading to your own suffering.
“Powerful you have become. The dark side I sense in you.”
You may have some power, and now may be the time to exercise some of it. But beware of over-cooking it. I have never known a business person who didn’t want to invest to grow. So, if there is growth to be had, I would strongly advise looking to secure it. Before taking an aggressive route, why not make it clear that changes are required, state what you need and understand the value you can give in return. They may surprise you; and could avoid a disastrous end to your relationship.
As Yoda is suggesting, just because you have power, doesn’t mean others aren’t equally or more powerful. Beware your ego taking over and believing your own hype. If you over-estimate your power you could well be setting yourself up to be taught a lesson by those who don’t need you quite as much as you thought.
Ultimately business is about finding solutions to challenges: positive and negative. There are many problems around currently and that those who are creative in resolving them will win over the long term.
“Wars not make one great”
So, what if you are facing an agent of the dark side? Someone who believes in their power, driven by ego.
If you have no power then you will have to dodge and weave, avoiding and deflecting their blows, hoping the aggressor’s attention moves on. Or maybe withdraw to regroup for another day or another field.
If, however, you do have power, then you will likely have to expend some of it, illustrating the folly of their aggression, while understanding their pressures, and offering creative ways to move on. Assuming your counterparty has an element of sense, you can move on to negotiate a mutually satisfactory outcome, ideally maintaining a positive relationship.
If you truly do face the megalomaniac then you will have to face them down. Because if you cede now then they will just return again and again. It’s tough, takes courage and bravery, but if you don’t do it now you are merely postponing the final showdown.
“Do or do not. There is no try.”