Evolution In Leadership: A Discussion with Shawne Duperon

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Frank just got passed over for the new department director. Twenty years and total devotion to the company and a/his career turned to dust. He knew in his heart he should have been the one chosen. When he heard the news, he was in shock. But now, he was really angry and wanted to find out why he was passed over but felt that would not be appropriate. Instead, he was going to start an immediate job search with the competitors.

As a leader of your company or department, how would you handle this situation?

According to Shawne Duperon, six time EMMY® winner and expert on corporate communications and leadership, an enlightened leader would approach Frank in this manner:

“Frank, can we talk about why you were passed over?” Unfortunately, this non-threatening and empathetic approach to a painful event is not used often enough. Little thought is given to the individual as it’s “just business.” Cold. Insensitive. Out of date.

According to Duperon, over the past decade or so, there is a developing trend in leadership to be more compassionate in the way problems are handled. She believes that people-especially the millennials- have become more open about their personal feelings and express them frequently on social media and the internet. Indeed, the workplace is being transformed by technology, globalization and the need for knowledge and innovation. The value of human capital is taking on a more important focus as the “war for talent” for people who can help the creative and innovative process intensifies.

Duperon believes that-in general- human beings are evolving in how they relate to each other, and business leaders will also need to evolve. For example, the manager who has asked Frank’s permission to have an authentic conversation, understands that there is a communication process to help others overcome disappointment and anger. Indeed, by spending a few moments addressing a problem properly, managers can save the company considerable expense in expensive turnover and dampening morale. The “enlightened” leader needs to take an authentic approach to another person’s problems. They understand that overcoming rejection, commonly pointed to in forgiveness research, has five stages.

When a person suffers an important setback, first there is shock, usually followed by anger. This second reaction is usually the hardest to get through. Most people closely protect their egos or blame others for their misfortune. After a time, usually after some emotional action has been taken, there is grief over the loss. Once grief has run its course, acceptance takes over. The final phase to the pain of rejection is peace.

Duperon believes the use of forgiveness can help get through the intractable phase of anger. More specifically, it is the ability to forgive oneself that is the key. Maybe Frank wasn’t aware that he wasn’t the best qualified. The key is to first help the person in pain realize that it’s ok to fail or make mistakes or just not be ready. What is important is what lessons might be learned from the rejection and what improvements can be made. Indeed, most successful entrepreneurs fail multiple times. It’s the ones who can accept their failures, forgive themselves for not being perfect and move on to the next challenge who become successful.

Duperon stresses that having empathy (being able to put oneself in the shoes of others) takes some practice and is a masterful skill. But it does wonders not only for the person receiving the empathy but also those giving it. The idea is to get past the emotional phase of anger that slows down the progress toward peace with unchangeable history. Indeed, Duperon feels that being able to forgive ones self or others requires courage and too few of us have this skill. Unlike the ex-marine character of the hit TV serial NCIS, Jethro Gibbs-“you should never say you’re sorry”, Duperon says that idea is unwise and in most cases counter-productive.

Corporations today are talking a lot about integrity and transparency, but those important qualities begin inside a company where employees are also important customers.

Gossip-good or bad?

We all know gossip and have a love-hate relationship with it. Duperon states: “according to academic studies, about 90% of everything that comes out of our mouth is gossip! And here is a surprising statistics: only about 5-7% of gossip is negative. However, in the work place, gossip usually intensifies when there is fear and/or lack of information. As a leading authority on leadership communications, Duperon states flatly that excessive gossip and fear can be dampened by a concerted effort by leadership to keep their ear to the floor and address gossip in communication tools such as a newsletter or management gossip response phone message line. Duperon also believes that leaders can use the interest in gossip to spread good news by providing positive communications about achievements, good deeds and good news.

Project Forgive

Shawne Duperon, as a six time EMMY® award winner, recently released a film clip on the internet about the real story of how a neighbor coped with the sudden and unexpected death of his beloved wife. It made such an impact (more than 10’s of thousands views), that she decided to focus on the importance of being able to forgive to reduce suffering and acceptance of the “bad stuff” that happens to most of us in our lives. She raised money for a full length documentary on forgiveness that portrays actual stories of effects on the forgivers as well as the forgiven. The movie should be out in a few months. She has also formed a non-profit organization Project Forgive, (www.projectforgive.com), which focuses on giving presentations to high school students as well as business leaders on the power of forgiving and compassion in life and the workplace. The subject of forgiveness is usually considered in a religious context but the Project Forgive Foundation is all about the practical application of a powerful personal strategy with real applications in the workplace as well as coping with today’s complex society.

About the Shawne Duperon

Evolution of LeadershipSix-time EMMY Award winner Shawne Duperon has taught thousands how to communicate in business using universal themes of love, fear, and forgiveness in the workplace. Shawne works with corporations, entrepreneurs, universities and government agencies across the globe. She has interviewed many presidents and has filmed hundreds of celebrities. You have seen her featured in major media including, CNN, ABC, Inc. Magazine, and USA Today. Her personal passion is forgiveness. Her story of overcoming child sexual abuse has inspired thousands. Her movement on global forgiveness was created through a film called Project: Forgive. The film’s five-minute video has been seen by tens of thousands.

For more information: www.ShawneTV.com or www.projectforgive.com


Additional Reading

7 Important Leadership Skills

Effective Leadership: Adaptive vs. Mechanical


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