For the Leader in You

Eliminate Bottlenecks While Making Friends

You know what you need to do, but your boss or someone else up the chain of command won’t make a decision. Either he or she doesn’t have time, doesn’t understand, or doesn’t care. Whatever the reason is, this person is frustrating you and makes you think it’s time to polish your resume.

Drano Is NOT Required: All You Need Is A Little Technique

It’s not that you have a problem with authority. You have a problem with incompetent authority. That is, when a person can’t do his or her job, the person needs to work elsewhere. While this sounds great, it’s hard to effectuate.  And we’re all about giving you actionable approaches to your people problems so wishing or griping is not the solution.  The unfortunate truth is that those who are in your way, don’t usually accommodate by leaving. The question then becomes, how do you eliminate the bottleneck without making the problem worse?

Five Steps to Transform Your Bottleneck Into Your “Best Bud” 

Let me start by saying the answer is not just to be “nice” or go over this person’s head. It’s to be strategic.

  1. Build Trust: You can’t work with a colleague who doesn’t trust you. Plain and simple. If you’ve alienated this person, you need to build the relationship. It’s not just about bringing in bagels, but food and drink go a long way toward building relationships and trust.
  2. Ditch the Attitude: Let’s face it, if you don’t respect this colleague, he or she probably knows it. And, I am guessing, the thought of being an inauthentic sycophant turns your stomach. Instead, find something you respect about your colleague or empathize. Perhaps, he or she is merely overworked and isn’t trying to ruin your life.
  3. Uncover Goals and Concerns: Before you can rush into proposing a solution, you need to understand a bit about your colleague’s goals and concerns with regard to the bottlenecked project.  Do so by using Coaching Skills, that is, asking targeted open-ended questions to elicit your colleague’s goals and concerns with regard to the project.
  4. Be Clever: Take what you’ve heard in Step 3 and figure out what would meet both your colleague’s and your needs. Ta-da!
  5. Make It His/Her Idea: This is where you get your colleague to choose your solution. It’s not (quite) a ninja mind trick but it will require you to think on your feet and maintain your composure. Delivery is key. Offer the solution you devised in Step 4, not as your own, but as your colleague’s by stating, “Hmmm . . . it sounds like you’re suggesting that we. . . ..” And then pause. Wait for affirmation.  If you don’t quite get it, revert back to coaching so that you can uncover the resistance.

If you want to learn more about how to eliminate bottlenecks and you’re in the DC area, join me on March 9 for Tactical Leadership Skills, register here.

If you found this post useful, please share with your colleagues and friends and let us know what you’ve done to eliminate bottlenecks. You can reach me at or 202-449-9751

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