Identifying Tough Cookie At Work

Tough cookie can be real tough. There is a title of a book by Robert H. Schuller, “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do”. When was the last time you had to deal with these people? Apparently part of journey to become top leaders, a leader must face off with tough cookie.

“Sometimes the only thing we did is pray.”

Remember those days when we were kids, we could simply shout, push back and kick those bad guys in the pants – hey how sometimes I wish that might work at work place. But, tough cookie at work place operates differently. Right?

Let’s do the acid test on how to identify tough cookie at work place:

1) WORD-LESS – these people neither give suggestion or feedback. They just shut off and continue their work the way they believe is right. Often, you need to keep going back to correct the same mistakes.

2) SARCASTIC JOKER – humour me can be fun but sarcasm doesn’t work well when its too much. They like to talk about things that don’t work aeons ago and magnify disproportionate risks on new ideas.

3) SEE BUT DISBELIEVE – they prefer to see situations as “no solution” after first few attempts. Saying “no” is their automated response. Instead, we should learn how to see “what’s the real problem is” and have faith in search of excellence.

4) PERSON BEFORE PROBLEM  – “whatever coming out from his mouth is fouled”. Blanket accusation like this is a dysfunctional behavior. Their inability to evaluate and be critical to the problem at hands can jeopardize decision making for the organization.

Dealing with tough cookie is no monkey business. Can be a real pain.
Dealing with tough cookie is no monkey business. Can be a real pain.

Here is the advise from the best. Ram Charan was asked, as leader “What can’t be taught?”. He answered, “Leader needs the mental capability and tenacity to knit their inferences into something meaningful and the imagination to think of new options. Leader needs the courage to go on the offensive based on your subjective judgments. You can’t be a wimp – make the tough calls.”

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Good Intention, Bad Decision

How many times that your own logic backfires? Just like when you try to fit a round ball into a square mould. It just won’t fit and you get frustrated. Consider this from Dr Wayne Dyer, “often we see the world as it is, but actually we see the world the way we are.” How true and i can attest to that.

Recently i wanted to make some change in the organization based on what i thought that i have a free hand to meddle with. I did what i thought was right and involved other people along the way. I came up with a plan and woosshh backfires instantaneously. I overlook certain variables but most importantly the conditions attached to my “free hand”. I probably downplayed some historical facts and believe by starting anew a good potential solutions. With all the good intention but it was a bad decision.

I am sure everybody have fallen into this trap. It can be a real frustrating event especially if u lack the will to move forward and accept that damage has been done. So now it is recovery time. The problem about making mistake is every organization or people has different tolerance level. Thus it makes it even more challenging right?

True to Your Values, Over Communicate,  Provide Leadership, Let Go
True to Your Values, Over Communicate, Provide Leadership, Let Go

Tolerance level is the ability to accept consequences after making a mistake. High tolerance means you are quick to accept mistakes and move on to improve the situation. Low tolerance level means the exact opposite or worse eg. blaming everybody except yourself. This leveling applies to you as a person and to every roles that you play in life. And it also applicable to people around us.

For example if you have a boss with high tolerance level, he won’t quickly jump when you told him you’ve made mistake. Processes aside, tolerance level is unique to individual thus in opinion subjects to the amount of trust you have between parties involved. So you got to find out by yourself and develop trust along the way.

Here are some of things to consider as part of the recovery plan:

1. Stay true to your values
Be honest, transparent and consistent in what you say with what you do. Even if you are angry at the situation do not lose your temper. Getting angry won’t solve the problem, it will only makes it worse. Stay in composure and relate yourself to the big picture.

2. Over Communicate
Obviously miscommunication was apparent in the situation above. While we always thought we have communicate enough, it isn’t. Do not rely on hearsays and 2nd hand information. It jumbles up the whole equation of truth and the crux of the matter. Seek it from the source.

3. Provide Leadership
Even if it is your own fault, it is so much better if you provide leadership to solve the whole mess. Yes, it can be an embarassing moments for some of us, you will thank yourself as you go. It wont last long if you do it fast. The longer you wait, the bitterness will eat you up. By showing leadership you project professionalism and good personal attitude.

4. Learn to Let Go

Getting carried away and slowly fall into self pity will be the end of you in that period. If your mistake is too great and you couldn’t see any way out of it, seek help early. Remember, you still need to address the issue but find someone you can trust to talk it out. It’s not helpful either to make hasty and unthoughtful decisions. Focus on the solutions because the rests are just noises.

Hope this shed some light. I can attest to that as well. 😉

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