Bad Leaders Don’t Forgive

By Grant Wattie
President, N2Growth Australia

“The weak can never forgive.

Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”

~Mahatma Ghandi

Today I’m writing about a topic that is rarely talked about in the leadership domain, especially amongst corporate leaders. Now, before you poo-poo the idea, please allow me to explain further. 

In my opinion, forgiveness can’t be ignored, because to do so is to defy a natural law like gravity. Forgiveness is one of the primary foundational ways of being for extraordinary leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Jesus and Ghandi. 

In the movie Spiderman 3, Peter Parker dreams of murderous vengeance against the man who shot and killed his Uncle Ben. When the ooze of unforgiveness attaches itself to him, it changes his Spiderman costume to black. His Aunt May, a model of forgiveness, has very wise, prophetic words for him:  Vengeance is a poison that can “take us over and turn us into something ugly.”

 What Peter eventually discovers is that like his Spiderman suit, vengeance isn’t something that can be easily put on and taken off at will. Knowing he has to be free of it or be lost forever, he has enough insight to seek out a way to be freed by reaching out to God. 

The depiction of Peter’s desperate wrestling with the ooze suit doesn’t promote the notion that forgiveness comes easy. Once he’s finally free there is a ritualistic washing. Though the ooze suit is gone, vengeance still remains and is looking for another victim. 

Like Spiderman, I discovered how anger and unforgiveness can turn from servant to enslaver. A few years ago I was involved in a long, exhaustive dispute, and after some time I realised the personal and financial cost was too high. My anger and bitterness that had begun to consume and control my life began to take on a life of its own. I became highly anxious, I wasn’t able to sleep at night, and my health started to deteriorate. Like Spiderman, I barely resembled the contented and calm person I used to be. Finally, when there seemed to be no way out, I became very tired and extremely frustrated and felt like giving up. 

But somewhere in my desperation I remembered the verse “Settle matters quickly with your adversary … or it will cost you your last penny.” That strong inner voice helped me to let the issue go and forgive, and I immediately felt a huge sense of relief and freedom.

To be clear, forgiveness doesn’t mean accepting of the grievance or that any party is right or wrong. It means letting go of the ego’s need for revenge and to be right in order to make the other party wrong.

My experience of forgiveness involved voluntarily and intentionally replacing negative states of anger, fear and unforgiveness with a more constructive state associated with empathy. I was able to reach forgiveness through the following five steps: 

1.  Recall the hurt:  This was easy for me as I had yet to deny my daily suffering.

2.  Empathize:  I was able to empathise and see the issue from the other party’s viewpoint.

3.  Unselfishly offer the gift of forgiveness:  I remembered that many times I harmed or offended others who later forgave me.

4.  Publicly commit to forgive:  I told my family, my advisors and others that I had let the issue go.

5.  Gentle reminders:  To stop backsliding into anger, I had to constantly remind myself that I had forgiven.

There are many benefits of forgiveness. In his book Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman reveals that forgiving someone we’ve held a grudge against reverses the biological reaction. It lowers our blood pressure and heart rate, the levels of stress hormones, and lessens pain and depression. Many people also feel less hurt, and report a substantial drop in physical symptoms of trauma like poor appetite and sleeplessness. 

Forgiveness generates a restored sense of personal power that may pave the way for future reconciliation. 

Thanks much for reading this post. I invite you to share your comments on this topic as it applies to your personal life and workplace.

There Is No Time To Hurry Up And Wait

By Damian D. “Skipper” Pitts
Chair, Organizational Development, N2Growth

Making any progress, process transformation or change across American communities and throughout the global business communities as usual is always hard and usually requires a significant investment of resources – people, finance and effort. So, whenever a leader or an organization adopts any new strategy, technology platform, methodology or approach, that adoption has to be driven by both a need and with leadership clarity.

Read More

John Baldoni Interviewed on ESPN

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has not spoken publicly since Sept. 9. Bob Ley talks with ESPN NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt and John Baldoni, Chair of N2Growth’s Leadership Development Practice about the commissioner’s recent lack of presence.

Watch the Interview

Mary Barra Faces A Question Of Loyalty

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

Is there such a thing as too much loyalty?

That is a question that Mary Barra may be considering after her latest appearance before a Senate committee investigating the faulty ignition switch problem that resulted in 11 deaths. While GM has cleaned house of engineers and lawyers accused of culpability, Michael Millikin, its chief counsel, has remained in place.

READ FULL COLUMN ON FORBES

Leadership Code Switching in the Innovation Sandbox

By Damian D. “Skipper” Pitts
Chair, Organizational Development, N2Growth
with Susan C. Guiher

Leadership is about being able to lead out from crises before they occur (the defining meaning of Crisis Leadership). This is a talent and skill that many leaders today are simply lacking. What’s needed, is a disciplined, future-focused and intelligent “preemptive-minded cultural” approach known as Crisis Leadership. This approach brings forth three considerations in behavioral intelligence, which when used in combination, will increase leadership’s ability to become more effective in dealing with crises, chaos and turbulence in organizations.

Read More

Jill Abramson On Resilience: ‘Show What You Are Made Of’

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

“You know the sting of losing. When that happens, show what you are made of.’’

That is what Jill Abramson told the graduates of Wake Forest University in a commencement address. “Resilience,” she noted was the theme of her address, and it seems appropriate in the wake of her summary dismissal as executive editor of the New York Times.

 

Read Full Column on Forbes

12 Reasons Crisis Leadership Trumps Crisis Management

By Damian D. “Skipper” Pitts
Chair, Organizational Development, N2Growth

The media lives for a crisis, politicians look for ways to gain advantage in a crisis, and some businesses will even try and profit from a crisis. Everyone loves a crisis; except the unprepared who didn’t see it coming – those led straight into the proverbial brick wall by a leader who missed something they shouldn’t have. One thing is for sure – we’ll all be better off when leaders stop trying to manage a crisis and become more proficient at crisis leadership.

Read More

Leadership in a VUCA World

By Grant Wattie
President, N2Growth Australia

Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. It’s become a popular acronym but it is very real.  In this video, Grant Wattie, President of N2Growth Australia, discusses how you, as a leader, can’t hold on to traditional leadership techniques and make it in this world full of VUCA.

At N2Growth, we would love the opportunity to speak with you and see how we can help you navigate the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity facing your organization.

Read More
5 Obsessions of Champions

The Five Obsessions of Winning Teams

By Brian Layer
Chief Executive Officer, N2Growth

March Madness resumes tonight and in a pressure packed weekend of excitement, the Sweet Sixteen will shrink to the Final Four.  Only the strongest teams will survive and while their defensive pressure, explosive running game or deep shooting might define their style, their success rests on five obsessions. These obsessions are common to champions and may very well help your team in your competitive endeavor. 

Read More

General Motors: The Problem Is Greater Than A Faulty Ignition Switch

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

What keeps CEOs up at night? It’s not what they know, but what they don’t know.

Such is the case in which General Motors newly appointed CEO Mary Barra finds herself. According to reporting by New York Times reporter Bill Vlasic, Barra did not learn of the ignition problem that has led to the recall of over 1.6 GM vehicles until January 31st. The problem with the faulty ignition, which causes engine shutdowns, has been linked to at least 13 deaths stretching back to 2003.

 

Read Full Column on Forbes

Page 1 of 41234