Hail to the Chief: Working Well with High Commanders

Hail to the Chief: Working Well with High Commanders

By Michael Aitken
Division Vice President, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits
Client of Bill Munn Management Coaching

Hell hath no fury like a high Commander attribute scorned!

Perhaps I didn’t get that quote quite right, but the principle is crystal clear in my mind.

Strong power attributes in others can be the most intimidating, but they are surprisingly easy to understand.

Caesar's CrownIn the past, I often valued team members and employees who were reluctant to take credit and who shied from the spotlight. These were characteristics I associated with team players. So when confronted with individuals who naturally sought control, I recoiled. The result was often an unfulfilled relationship fraught with distrust and poor exchange of ideas.

The long-term prospects for this approach did not look good, as high Commander attribute individuals will very likely hold positions of serious influence, and it will be important for me to relate to them in a way that is beneficial for us both.

I work with an associate (I will call him Caesar). Caesar was cold in meetings and unresponsive to my usually effective banter and humor. This was disconcerting, because it’s important that Caesar and I develop a line of trust and are communicative, as our work entails us aligning our 2 companies on promotion and sales projects.

Then, Caesar said something casually over a drink that led me to believe that he may have a strong Commander attribute. As an experiment, I started showing Caesar more deference in meetings, very careful not to speak over him or contradict him. I immediately saw improvement in our relationship. Caesar was more communicative, even initiating casual conversation.

Then, I was presented with an opportunity that changed our relationship forever: Our company was involved in a celebrity event as part of a brand promotion. So I asked Caesar if he would consider representing our 2 companies by hosting the dinner event with his wife.

The event was an enormous success. Caesar was in his element and afterward, he was very eager to show me pictures of him and his wife with assorted celebrities. I profusely thanked him for taking control of the event and taking time from his busy schedule.

Now, I often call Caesar for advice and ask him for direction. It doesn’t always have to be his way, and he’s open to suggestions, but he just wants to know that he has some say in the solution.

Today, we enjoy a productive professional and enjoyable social relationship.

One thought on “Hail to the Chief: Working Well with High Commanders

  1. Bill Munn - October 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    After inviting Mike to write a guest post, I deliberately avoided reading it beforehand because I didn’t want to unintentionally influence the process (and I knew his insights would be great).

    WOW. Mike shows a real understanding of Listening for Revelation here – for tuning in as others reveal their own attribute profile.

    Thanks, Mike, for bringing these concepts to life.


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