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I have considered resigning as union president, but believe that would be a "cop out"...
in the Middle
Dear Stuck in the Middle,
Until recently, I was an active member the club "I Care Too Much About What Others Think Of Me: I Need To Be Liked By Everyone." I realized that the club was terrible for my growth, empowerment, confidence and effectiveness. So, I resigned from this club. If you are a member, I suggest you do the same.
Did you become president through a bloody coup or through an election? If you were elected, then it seems to me the electorate already decided to trust you in light of your close relationships with the administrators. As you already know, having good relations with the administrators can make you much more effective than those that are in a contentious dynamic. As a mediator, one of the essential tasks I undertake is to build good rapport among the players of a conflict. The more everyone likes the others, the better the chance for good constructive resolution. Those that think you accomplish more by maintaining contentious relations are misguided -- in my opinion and experience.
Family dynamics are also instructive about how to stand up for what you want and believe to those you care about. I do it all the time with my wife and kids, and more often they do it with me. The fact that we love each other does not make anyone ineffective in advocating for their position. I wish it did sometimes.
That being said, your Achilles heel is revealed when you wrote: "I recently brought an issue to the administration that is capable of stirring up some problems. While I am firm in my convictions that the union's concern is legitimate, I am uncomfortable because I feel that I am damaging friendships with people that I genuinely care about."
I think you need to get crystal clear on whether or not you can represent the Union's interests 100%. If your discomfort around the possibility of damaging friendships is impairing your advocacy for the Union, then you need to resign or get over it really quick. If your discomfort is not impairing your advocacy then you can stay as president. But you need to closely examine the discomfort to find out if is impairing your ability. Again, the key word is "impair" and your key obligation as president is to the union's interests, not your friendships. I hope this helps clarify things for you. In sum, once you are clear that your advocacy is effective and not compromised, then you will have the strength to stop listening to the "suck up" birds chirping away both inside and outside your head.
The fact that you got to where you are is a sign that you have the ability to be a great president for the union. And posing the question shows that you have both integrity and humility -- a rarity in leadership today.
Interesting, as I have written this response, the words President of the Union kept reminding me of Lincoln. Of course, Lincoln was a great leader with tons of integrity, humility, clarity and courage, and an ability to not be influenced by his innumerable critics. You follow in great footsteps. Good luck and let me know how the advice works in your life.
Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.
Arnie Herz, Esq.
Feedback from Stuck in the Middle,
Thank you Arnie and Franke! I want to thank you for the wonderful, thought
provoking response to my letter. Your unique perspective has helped to
clear up many of my concerns. You have also helped me recognize there
are some issues that only I can resolve. My first course of action will
to be to turn in my resignation to the "Care too Much/Need to be
liked" Club....of which I am a Charter Gold Club member!! LOL
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