Should Leaders Compromise?

Not much thought is usually put into thinking about compromising and what it fully means.  When we say we compromise with each other, it’s taken in a positive way.  But when we say that we’re in a compromising situation, that’s a very bad situation.  So how does this apply to leaders and how should leaders approach compromising?

A possible positive approach to compromising is when you make concessions in the spirit of cooperation and mutual benefits.  Without compromise, there are so many great things that would not have happened.  Without compromise, we would miss out on opportunities to work together and collaborate to achieve greater things.  Ultimately, compromising is essential to teamwork and there can be no success without the practice of constant compromising.  We give and take with each other to have mutual gains and success.

Yet when we say compromise, we are suggesting lowering the bar.  We lower our level of acceptance to compromise with others.  There is a negative connotation which comes with that.  When we compromise even in the positive spirit of mutual benefits, we are agreeing to something lesser than what we originally expected.  We are agreeing to something less than what we believe is optimal.  In that sense, there is a real risk that it may not provide the path to the optimal outcome.

When we’re in a compromising situation, it means that we’re in a bad situation.  When put in a compromising situation, we are in essence forced into making concessions that we would normally not want to make.  Concessions which challenges our integrity and our personal core values.  These concessions we are forced into making will lead to an outcome we are likely not going to be proud of.

With all the negative connotations of compromising, we still cannot function without it.  But we do need to fully understand it and understand what we should and could compromise upon, and where we should draw the line in the sand when it comes to compromising.  Here are some areas where leaders can consider compromising upon and some where leaders should avoid at all costs.

It’s acceptable and even necessary for leaders to be flexible and have the ability to compromise on:

  • Work schedule and deadlines. Leaders are responsible to the company to deliver project and product completion in a timely manner.  However, understanding that it’s sometimes necessary to compromise on the schedule in order to achieve better quality product is justifiable.  In addition, compromising on schedule to protect the team from burnout will allow for a much more sustainable future production.
  • Assignment distribution and expectations. Each week, or day, or whenever the work distribution cycle is handed out, leaders are constantly trying to distribute work most efficiently and effectively.  Leaders have a good understanding of the capabilities of their team and what each members can accomplish within the allotted schedule.  However, leaders should too be willing and open to hear feedback form the team on the tasks assignments as their own experience can help leaders make better decisions and ultimately have a better complete product.  It should be reasonable for leaders to adjust assignments to ensure that the team are comfortable with the commitments and expectations they have.
  • The little things. Part of being a good leader is to understand about not to be too strict and stringent with the little things.  Things that in the grand scheme of things, don’t really matter all that much.  Using best judgment and being flexible to compromise on the little things will allow leaders more leeway to be less compromising on the bigger issues.

There are certainly times when compromising should be considered and used with best judgments.  However, there are also certain situations where you should absolutely make all attempts to avoid compromising.  Compromising should not take place with:

  • Quality of product and deliverables. At all costs, leaders should demand top quality in the product and deliverables they provide.  When compromising on schedule and task distributions, this is an area where you draw the line in the sand and demand that quality be met.  The leader and organization are evaluated based on the quality of the product and deliverables, therefore, this is one area which should never be compromised.
  • A leader’s integrity should never be compromised no matter what. So much time and effort have been put into building and earning the respect from members and colleagues that it really is never worth it to compromise that integrity.  Years of effort into earning trust and respect, which a moment of compromise can utterly wipe out is not worth it.  Without integrity, the leader’s ability to lead is miniscule.
  • Never compromise the team and team members and never place them in compromising situations. To compromise someone is to put them in danger or at the very least in a situation that they would never want to be in.  A leader’s responsibility is to protect the team and team members, not to put them into harm’s way.  Failing to do this equals failing to be a leader.

The bottom line is that compromise is a necessary function of being a leader.  However, leaders must understand that when compromise are being made, it must be with the intent for collaboration and mutual gains and mutual success.  In addition, not all compromises are equal and there are certainly situations where compromises should be rejected outright.  Leaders face these situations on a daily basis and must walk this fine line consistently.

Photo by: Will H McMahan

2 thoughts on “Should Leaders Compromise?

  1. Có những lãnh đạo độc đoán thì không bao giờ cấp dưới có thể thỏa hiệp được.
    Vậy thì làm thế nào để thỏa hiệp với lãnh đạo như vậy?
    Trân trọng cảm ơn tác giả

  2. Hello Châu,
    Bạn hoàn toàn đúng. Có những nhà lãnh đạo chưa nắm bắt được sự hiểu biết về cách thức và thời điểm thỏa hiệp. Những nhà lãnh đạo này khiến bản thân và nhóm của họ bất đồng quan điểm. Sẽ khó hơn nhiều nếu người lãnh đạo của bạn không muốn lắng nghe những ý tưởng được đề xuất. Có một thứ gọi là “dẫn đầu”, nơi bạn thực sự có thể dẫn dắt người lãnh đạo của mình. Tôi sẽ sớm viết bài về chủ đề “Làm thế nào để dẫn đầu”, nơi tôi sẽ thảo luận về ý tưởng dẫn dắt các nhà lãnh đạo của bạn và các chiến lược về cách làm như vậy. Tôi hy vọng sẽ chia sẻ điều này với bạn trong tương lai gần. Xin chân thành cảm ơn bạn đã đóng góp ý kiến và mong nhận được nhiều phản hồi từ các bạn.

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