June 2016

Influence and Authenticity

Self-Styles Provide Flexibility and Nuances

Using your self-styles authentically and flexibly creates win-win relationships.

Let's check in with Sally and Donna to see what each of them is up to and whether or not they are able to authentically incorporate their self-styles.


Sally's hands are shaking. She stabilizes herself on the dresser and goes to the comfy chair in the corner. She sits on the edge of the chair, completely rigid. She doesn't know whether to scream or cry. She feels totally alone and completely unsupported. She takes a few swigs of her drink and talks to herself out loud.

“Okay Sally,” she begins. “You have to pull it together. You're all on your own again. But you've been here before and you've made it through. Let's come up with a plan.”

Sally goes on like this for a while. Finally, she decides to call her sister, Louise.

Louise is pretty supportive when push comes to shove. She talks too much but then, most people do as far as Sally is concerned. After a few minutes of chit chat, Sally says, “Louise, I called for your opinion. You have a good head on your shoulders. Will you give me some advice?”

“Sure Sally,” Louise responds. “What's up?”

Sally gives her sister the Cliff's notes version of what happened to her at Future Space, what hasn't happened with The Perfect Position, and how Larry won't move to another city with her and is being totally unsupportive. Louise listens to the whole story, asks a few questions, and then responds.

“Sally, I've known Larry almost as long as you have,” she says. “He really is a good guy and he loves you. He has been and is committed to you. You are not on your own really. Larry will help you if you let him. Go out into the living room right now and be nice to him. Work with him. Let him know that you love him and believe in him. Let him know that you want his life to be happy too, that you care about his best interests also. He wants to help. Really, he does. You just have to give him a chance.”

Sally is quiet. She is letting her sister's words sink in. “But how do you know he wants to help?” she asks. “It certainly doesn't seem like that. He hasn't said that he'll move with me if that's what I need to get a new job. How else can he help if he's not going to do that?”

“Sally, Larry loves you and you know it,” Louise responds. “You're just having a meltdown. Also, just like Larry says, you haven't given The Perfect Position a chance, really. They've helped place you before. They believe in you and know what you're capable of, so chill out and let that guy help you. You may not have to move after all. I'm sure that's what Larry is thinking. He knows how good you are and he believes in you. Just like I do. We both know what you can do. Now get out of your bedroom and go to Larry and apologize for acting like such a jerk. Go out to dinner and chill.”

“Okay Louise,” Sally concedes. “I'll try to believe you. I'll go find Larry and see if he's changed his mind.”

“Sally, that is not what I said,” Louise responds. “I said that you should go to Larry and apologize. You're the one whose being unreasonable about all this. Now go.”

“Okay, okay,” Sally says. “I'll go to Larry and apologize. You win. But if he's mean to me...”

“Bye Sally,” Louise states. “Have a nice dinner. Talk to you tomorrow.”

“Bye Louise,” Sally answers. “And thanks.”

Sally sits there thinking about her sister's advice. Finally, she gets up, fixes her makeup, and opens the bedroom door.

Let's circle back to Donna at Future Space and see how she puts together influence and authenticity with her team...

Donna has just come back from a review for ARCTIC and is impressed with how well the team is doing. She is feeling good about changes she's made and continues to make as a leader and how those changes affect her team. She is really pleased that they have reached a higher level of rigor on their own. Donna is humming inside as she walks to her office. Emily pops out of her office as she sees Donna pass by in the hall.

“Do you have a few minutes?” Emily asks. “I really need to talk to you.”

“Sure Emily, I have some time right now,” Donna responds. The two women walk towards Donna's office together. “What's up Emily?”

“I'd rather tell you when we're in your office,” Emily answers.

“Okay, sure,” Donna says. They enter her office, Donna closes the door, and they sit down in the comfortable chairs away from Donna's desk. Donna waits quietly.

Finally, Emily clears her throat and says, “Donna, I'm going to give notice today. I just don't think I'm cut out to be a project manager. I wanted you to be the first to know. I hope you're not mad at me, but I just can't do it. It's too stressful and I don't think I'm doing a good job. I don't want WING to fail because of me. I want to go back to just being an engineer and just be responsible for doing a good job with my work.”

Donna listens quietly, nods and then responds after Emily has finished speaking. “Emily, I am very sorry to hear this. I know you are much harder on yourself than anyone else is. We believe you can do it.”

Donna pauses to let that statement sink in. Then she continues, “I know that you're a new project manager and everything you're doing is a first. There's always a steep learning curve. Managing a project is so different than being an engineer on the project, for sure. Perhaps your stress is coming from a belief that you should already know how to do it, not that you're learning. What do you think?”

“Donna, you are just amazing,” Emily says. “Here you're hearing me say that I'm going to quit and you're trying to help me understand myself better. I can't quite believe it.” Emily looks at Donna and is shaking her head back and forth. “You really are too much. You're too nice. You should just fire me.”

“Emily, there is no way that I would fire you!” Donna states emphatically. “I see who you are and I think you're great. You have tremendous abilities and you're already doing a good job as a project manager. Yes, you have a lot to learn but we all do. I'm learning a lot in my new job too. None of us come into a new job being able to ace it right away. Rather than fire you, I want to make sure you get a mentor and a coach so you can feel successful and learn all that you need to learn to be the top performer that you are. I'm sure you've given this decision a lot of thought, but I'd like you to reconsider it.”

Emily searches Donna's face to find something that tells her that Donna is faking it. She finds nothing that is incongruent.

Emily sighs, then takes a deep breath and says, “Okay. I'll hold off. I'll give it some more thought.”

“Rather than you thinking it through on your own, I'd like you to speak with the coach I used for on-boarding,” Donna says. “I'll see if she's available later today and let you know.”

“Donna, thank you for being so understanding and helpful,” Emily smiles gratefully. “I can't imagine having a boss who is more supportive. I really don't want to leave you or Future Space. I just don't know what to do. I'm not sleeping well and I'm really stressed.”

“I know, Emily. I can see it and hear it in your voice,” Donna responds. “We'll see what we can do to help you get through the eye of the needle.”

Emily thanks Donna again and goes back to her office.


It is not hard to notice the differences between Sally and Donna as they pertain to influence and authenticity.

Sally is very far away from using various internal characters authentically to influence anyone positively. However, Louise is able to influence Sally so much that Sally is able to swallow her pride, shift out of her extremely reactive state, and find the willingness to approach Larry.

Donna's ability to utilize her internal characters in a way that influences others is profoundly different than Sally's. From the prior episode and recapped here, ARCTIC's successful review is due partially to the influence Donna had on the team members to increase their level of rigor internally. This episode shows her using herself effectively with Emily as she attempts to influence Emily's decision to stop being a project manager and to leave Future Space precipitously.

It is easy to imagine that Donna's ability to use herself authentically and flexibly creates win-win relationships, whereas Sally's lack of ability creates problems and a lot of dead bodies on the side of the road.

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