4 Ways to Stir the Pot and Not Get Burned
Leaders stir pots. But, you’re an irritating trouble maker, if all you do is stir.
Stir the pot, too often, and you’ll end up burned.
A leader without relationships is an individual contributor. Develop relationships by aligning-with and going-along.
Those who never go along are self-centered ego maniacs.
Successful leaders stir the pot and build alliances at the same time.
Love and hate:
Corporations love those who love them.
Leaders hate mediocrity, lost opportunity, isolation, and inefficiency. But, don’t forget to love your organization, even as you stir the pot to make it better.
4 ways to stir the pot and not get burned:
Pot-stirrers seem disloyal and frightening to organizations that have fallen in love with themselves.
Stir the pot by:
- Learning from customers, vendors, and competitors.
- Developing talent. Those who aren’t growing have to go. Shift people’s roles by giving new opportunities and responsibilities, for example.
- Bringing the outside in. Today, I’m giving a presentation to a Statewide Community Corrections organization. I’m an outsider. The fact that I’m not a corrections person is their advantage.
- Standing up for what you believe in, even if it’s unpopular. Great ideas are unpopular, at first. Just be sure to stir with a smile.
7 things to do when stirring fails:
Believe me, you won’t always get your way. If you always get your way, the people around you are head-nodding, unthinking, fearful brown-nosers.
The way you respond – when you don’t get your way – reveals who you are.
Move toward, not away, when you don’t get your way.
- Explore, don’t defend.
- Support others when they stir pots.
- Go to lunch with those who disagree. Build relationships.
- Adapt as you go.
- Focus on issues more than personalities.
- Learn to let some things go, at least for now.
- Don’t be known as a one-issue leader.
What behaviors cause leaders to get burned?
How might leaders stir the pot and not get burned?
the gadfly is a tough role
Thanks billgncs. I had to look up dadfly. Great word. Thanks
Insightful idea on what leadership is all about. Instance galore of leaders stirring the pot without realizing that they are reaching no where. Case of Kingfisher Airlines is a classic example of the leader stirring the pot without caring about stakeholders and trying to impose his writ. Today the Airline has run aground causing colossal national loss and leaving employees in lurch.
Thanks P.G. You remind us all that stirring pots is dangers.
“Adapt as you go” we classify this as seat of your pants Engineering, where there is a will there is a way! My experiences have worked the best when I align with the workers since they perform every day, they are on the front lines, they will also tell you, “there are more then 500 ways to skin a cat”. no animal cruelty intended. Leaders need to share their insights and let the workers perform the procedures to accomplish the tasks, provide guidance if needed, if not observe and learn.
Thanks Tim. The people on the front line know more than the people in the office when it comes to knowing how to get the job done. Every office person needs to spend a day or more actually doing the work.
“Constructive Confrontation” -a term I have become accustomed to, and worked well across many levels and disciplines, and in many contexts. Attaching a “this is how this improves things” clarifies motives as not just mixing it up for the sake of attention, it also quickly helps others see where you intend to go.
In bringing forward new ideas it is often the perspective of many that really shapes the idea into something useful and meaningful. Getting the right “stirrers” together is an art in itself.
Thanks Ken. Love the feel of constructive confrontation. I suppose we might use it to excuse abuse. But, it seems like it’s on a useful path.
So glad you thougtht about bringing pot stirrers together… think of the power! Rather than snuff them out, bring them together and expect them to get something done.
Stirring the pot! What if it’s the boss who is practising unethical practices and who makes life miserable for his staffs.? There’s a limit to stirring just to “tripod’ him. Sorry , there is a so much one can do to adapt. Conscience must be clear. A boss who is too autocratic and with no capability to think out of the box. Not leaders but bullies! At the end, I believe that one has to be true to oneself!
Thanks Choong. Nicely said. I sure hope you are under the burden of a bullying boss. It’s sad that bullies still occupy the hall ways of many organizations. The stats are still alarming.
Well, the only people qualified to answer these kinds of questions are people like Nelson Mandela.
People like him effected change, shifted paradigms.
Those who have NEVER DONE anything like that might be all well meaning and cool and all, they just have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.
See the difference between bloviating and EXPERIENCE is like the difference between white and black.
See when you ask people like Mandela about stirring the pot, do you really think he cares about stepping on toes of idiots? He did not, I do not!!!!!!!!!!
No, when BETTER has its time, it is time to go to any length, burn all the bridges and be a magnet for those who believe what you believe and as repulsive to those who do not as you possibly can. The folks who do not believe what you believe are the last ones who are going to help you. Piss them off as much you possibly can so you do not WASTE your time and theirs trying to convince them to see things your way. Leave them be to hang with people who believe what they believe.
I met my business partner yesterday. Nice fella and THANK GOD a Tar Heel Grad. Can you imagine I have to change the world with a Dukie???? Oh the HUMANITY!!!!! hehe
It took 5 minutes into our conversation before we were practically ending one anothers sentences.
See Jimmy believes what I believe. We met by COINCEDENCE in the morning, right??? Hit it off and later in the day spent three hours going over what we are going to do.
Now do you see the difference between THAT and wasting my time trying to be politically correct with people who are not going to hear me?
I am learning as life goes on this is a sorting process. Now I do not mean to be mean or nasty when I run into people who do not believe what I believe but I DO NOT NEED to waste my time trying to change their mind. Hey they like their beliefs, that is why they believe them!!!! LOL
Here is what I believe. We got a lot of problems. Poverty being one. We got I think it is like 4% of the population owns 96% of the money, globally. Now I see that as a problem, I am going to change that. Wanna help or you like only a few got almost all the money?
The way the internet is set up is perfect to help this change. See money can be set to flow through the computer, see when I go to one of Oprah’s schools in South Africa, I cannot effect change reviving brick and mortar businesses, so 80’s! What I can do is open a franchise with AIM Academy that is based on an internet connection, not brick and mortar geography. See if the person in front of the computer is selling, the people buying have no idea this person is in South Africa. No geographic limitations to Internet Commerce.
Set up enough franchises in impoverished areas and Poverty as we know is vanishes. Unlimited Franchises silly. Goes rather nicely with the other to Unlimited’s, right??? hehe
There are only three parts to the Plan.
1. Unlimited Traffic
2. Unlimited Products
Right now the Paradigm in place now fails 95% of the time. The NFOP newbie failure online paradigm just needs number three tweaked to EFFECTIVE MIDDLEMEN. The missing link and I got it!!!!! YIIIPPPPEEEE!!!!!!
That is simple enough, franchises succeed 94% of the time. So create a franchise with a plan and specific directions for the franchisees to follow, AND BE THERE TO SUPPORT them BECAUSE you are tied together economically in the form of a franchise royalty. Duh!!!
Yep pretty simple! Now see Jimmy saw it RIGHT off how simple this is. He kept asking me why no one else is doing this. I told him just because the internet is a fairly new form of business. They way they initially started got a little off track and then just repeated over and over and over. That is why 95% fail. When they started the trajectory was off so that paradigm just keeps repeating.
Time for another Paradigm! Aim Academy, the Movement to Better…..its time.
So there are 3 kinds of folks.
1. those that make things happen
2. those that watch what happens
3. those that wonder what happens.
No judgement, just discernment who can help me shift the paradigm and who can’t or won’t.
So any of you who GET what I just shared, HELP! I need it. I am lousy at things like making blogs. I mean I got one but it is simple and needs to be fancier. Anyone who knows that stuff, you can help AIM Academy nail its target, Global Poverty by helping my blog get way cooler.
What would that cost you, some time doing what you already know how to do I don’t? Well I came up with the Plan to end poverty and you just read it you see it is simple and will work as long as we get folks doing it. You could not come up with the idea, the Plan, I can’t blog.
If we work together doesn’t everyone benefit?
I read once about this thingy of doing nothing with your talents…..seem you do not use them they VANISH!!!!! So if you can help…..DO IT!!!
Anyways, think I got the link below to my simple but sweet and sincere blog, my video going over Project Connect is there.
Here is an idea. Go check out the video. You just might you find you believe what I believe and when you see my plan you cannot see how it will not work, just like me and Jimmy.
The video is only 12 minutes. If you watch, see you believe what I believe…..HELP! Movement to Better needs you.
Not sure how this fits with Dan’s blog and I feel you need to consider others time when writing such lengthly emails. I don’t doubt you have great ideas but there is a time and a place for this.
That is cool! Each person I do believe has a time and a place to state their truth. Yours mighty brief, mine a little longer. I also guess you don’t appreciate the way I stir the pot!
I wake up everyday and ask myself: who and how can I serve today? I notice sometimes my questions to others and of myself stir the pot.
In service, I do not mean to frighten people, but rather, challenge them.
I am still learning to be both direct and compassionate.
Thank you for the important reminders how to do be both!
Thanks Cindy. What a great question. The opportunity to serve is the greatest opportunity of life.
Compassion is an essentail element to this conversation. Thanks for bringing it. Leadership without compassion is brutality.
“You can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar” the old adage says…and it’s true. Last year, I “stirred a pot” at work for 8 months. I believed our organization was headed for trouble if it did not address a certain issue. I was being asked to chastise folks for their “poor performance” but I knew that our data was faulty (though I couldn’t prove it myself). For those 8 painful months, I reported out awful, but faulty, performance statistics while continuing to shine light on the true issue to our governance team at monthly meetings. This was done at my own risk as I had been asked by my superior and his associate not to do so. I decided it was that important. By garnering the interest and support of some key people at my organization, my concern was raised to the highest level – that of the CEO. Fortunately, my credibility and quiet persistence helped us to successfully address and resolve the situation. It took A LOT of work to fix the real problem (in fact, it is one of the reasons the problem was being avoided in the first place and it is still being worked on today) however it was the right thing to do. I tell this story, not to give myself recognition, but to encourage others to never give up on what they know is truly right or in what they truly believe. As Dan said in point #4 – Stand up for what you believe in, even if it is unpopular.
Thanks Gabrielle. KaPow. Organizations need people of integrity who stand up with grace. Your story inspires me.
It’s dangerous to stand up…. I notice that you build some strategic alliances as well. We can’t undervalue the power of connecting with the right people.
I think the question is valid: “Am I stirring the pot just to roil the contents or is it because the pot needs a good stirring?” In a work environment where people lack the freedom to be candid, many feel the need to stir the pot just to release their frustrations. Stirring the pot has to be productive and purposeful.
Thanks Jorge. Wonderful observation. Organizations where game playing is normal get distracted by game playing and frustration escalates. So glad you stopped in.
Thanks for this insightful post. As we continue to dialogue through your blog; I feel you add value to my personal development and growth. So, again thank you.
As it pertains to stirring the pot, I relate it to the wise sage who said we should pick our fights carefully because if we choose a fight for which we have not enough leverage to win, it could ruin the creditability already built up. Thus, the area in which a leader chooses to stire the pot has much to do with the culture of the company, the external support system, and the relationships among the people. I agree that stirrinig the pot is a good strategy, a leader just has to ensure it will get the results he or she wants and if it fails have an alternative strategy ready to deal with it.
A good subject, Dan. Thank you.
As several people have alluded to above, the motivation behind initiating change is vital. Leaders at all levels (not just the top), must continuously observe the environment and make course corrections to respond to changes in the organization’s environment, to incorporate learning, and to continuously hone the efficacy of delivery, refine the product or service, change its nature, etc.
Stirring the pot for the sake of pride, personal benefit, etc. is not leadership – it is self-serving narcissism. Staying the course to avoid change can be a sign of wisdom – or of smugness, laziness or complacency.
I have long believed Kotter’s 8 step approach to leading change, but feel it is lacking 2 steps prior to change initiation. Those steps are: 1) Evaluating what change is necessary and the most desirable among all the ones that are possible (since an organization has a limited amount of resources to effect change and people can only do a certain finite number of things well) and 2) Evaluating the reasons for the change to ensure that they are based on achieving organizational improvement, rather than advancing personal agendas.)
You asked what kind of behaviors gets leaders burned? I would say a huge self-combustible issue is a distinctive lack of appreciation for others, which can manifest as either a lack of praise or an abundance of antagonism…or both.
Praise in public, coach in private, wouldn’t you say?
Good post, Dan. From a nursing perspective, stirring the pot correctly may lead to the culture change needed in healthcare.
Great topic Dan! However, I would like to comment on “A leader without relationships is an individual contributor. Develop relationships by aligning-with and going-along”. There are times that “going-along” would require a sacrifice of moral and character fortitude which is self-defeating. As difficult as it may be to stand alone in the stream against the flow, it may be what is required. We always search for others who share in a desire for better climates and cultures but often we get caught in the “out-group” and are never picked to play the game. So often we must choose between being the popular kid or being the one that can live with themselves by knowing that they have chosen to always do the right thing.
I seem to stir the pot all too often but from my perspective I’m just trying to help. Once people get to know me they see I truly do care but before that they think I rude and just don’t care. It’s just that I never can tell what I said that was offensive but that could just be one of the problems that come with being on the high functioning end of the Autism Spectrum.
Here is a fun story of a pot stirrer that is a different angle https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140514195256-67634676-one-persistent-person-vs-the-group?trk=prof-post
Thanks for your wonderful posts.
I am a rare pot stirrer that likes to hold a mirror up to all employees including principles & management. My goal is to grow this company & It’s important that we ALL, myself included, address obvious short comings and work on bettering ourselves and our company. I believe that mediocre efforts and lackadaisical attitudes not only hurt the individual and their ability to learn and grow but the company suffers overall because that kind of behavior is toxic and contagious. ( I am a marketing director with 30 years business growth & start up experience) I try to look in the mirror myself and stay positive and forward thinking which is pretty easy in today’s exciting new tech world with social media going crazy and tech expanding so rapidly it’s really hard to get bored.