What if we saw those who irritate us as the beginning of creativity, collaboration, or even a thing of beauty; a possibility yet to manifest itself with a little time and attention?
Consider the lowly oyster. When an aggravation is presented to its system it creates a lovely pearl, something of great potential and value.
Here is an example of turning someone who irritates you into a valuable leader:
Fernando is responsible for a large organization in a global company. He is one of the best I’ve ever known at creating and nurturing leaders. The leaders at his company work very, very hard, with long hours and lots of stress. He was in need of someone to “mind the store” while he spent a couple of months away from the office for personal reasons.
Luckily, Fernando had done what a good manager should do: he had taken the time and effort to assure that several of his best leaders would be ready to take his place when he needed to be away from the organization; his mind was at rest about work because he knew he could count on one of the leaders he’d nurtured to fill in while he was away. The important thing for him was to decide which team member would be in charge in his absence.
Turning an irritant into a pearl
Fernando chose carefully and wisely. His choice of Ann to lead in his absence was unexpected to many: she was openly critical of Fernando, and they didn’t always see eye to eye. Yet Ann was skilled and ready to fill in. And Fernando had a cultivated smooth running organization. Prior to leaving he had spent time nurturing and coaching the irritant – Ann – to help her to be ready to experience leadership at a different level and with a different view than she had before.
Fernando’s time away was successful in two ways. He was able to take care of his personal situation without worry about what would happen while he was away, and he developed Ann into someone that was more valuable to him and to his organization by letting her take over in his absence. Ann went from being an irritant to a pearl. She became less critical of Fernando, and came to understand the complexity he dealt with. In short, she became his advocate and the relationship was better upon his return. She was ready to lead at the next level in the organization when the time was right.
As a leader, you may find someone on your team irritating. You may try to avoid them. When you do so, nothing happens – and nothing changes. Why not do what the oyster does, and choose to nurture the irritation? With a little time and attention, it may turn into a “pearl”- something ultimately beautiful and of value.
What irritations do you have in your organization that you are ignoring? Do you see the possibility that, with time and attention, they may be nurtured into value for your organization?