Dr. Sarah Eaton

Professor, Author and Researcher

Dr. Sarah Eaton - Professor, Author and Researcher

9 Things You Can Do When Leadership Styles Clash

Tonight I was reminded (yet again) that differences in leadership style can cause friction in a relationship. This is true whether that relationship is at work, at school, or at home.

Imagine this scenario: Two leaders are arguing about how to do something. They disagree based on their approach to the situation. They both believe they are right.

Leader profile #1: Project manager at a national corporation; Gets along with just about everyone; Laid back; Believes that rules are important, but not when they are just downright stupid; thinks everyone should play by the same rules and that equality is important.

Leader profile #2: Small business owner, educator, PhD in Leadership; Relentless about “leading by example”; Believes in “equitable, not equal” leadership; High achieving and not particularly laid back. (Oh yes, and she writes a blog called “Literacy, Languages and Leadership”, too.)


Me: You need to put this parking tag in your vehicle.

Leader #1: Why? It’s your spot and you’ve rented it.

Me: Yes, but you need the tag.

Leader #1: That’s just dumb. Everyone knows you. They know it’s your spot. It’s dark out and I’m tired. I don’t feel like going out to the car again. Just leave it. It’ll be fine.

Me: No, it won’t. I’m on the board of this community and we agree that we need the parking tags. I’m not saying it’s a perfect system. I’m saying that you need the tag in your car, particularly because I’m on the board and we can’t ask others to use tags if we, as board members, don’t do it ourselves.

Leader #1: But I’m not on the board.

Me: No, but the parking spot belongs to me and I’m on the board. Please put the tag in the car.

Reluctantly Leader #1 (who happens to be my other half, and the parking spot in question is in the complex where we live), trudged out to the car and displayed the tag.

This happens all the time. We are two strong, good people, with very different approaches. The same thing can happen at work or at school.

Here’s what to do:

1. Talk about it. Let each person explain their point of view and justify their stance.

2. Remain calm. Avoid yelling, screaming and name-calling.

3. Focus on the problem, not the person. Just because you don’t like the other person’s leadership style, doesn’t mean you have the right to be nasty. As my friend, Lisa Chell, says, words are powerful tools in relationships.

4. Pick your battles. Decide when it is worth fighting to the bitter end and when it is OK to give in.

5. Give in sometimes.. and stand your ground when you need to. In this case, the other person conceded the point. Sometimes, I’m the one to make a concession.

6. Acknowledge the other person’s efforts to communicate with you. If the other person gives you the space to express yourself, listens and works with you to find an agreement, then acknowledge that. It takes more effort and self-control to do that than it does to fly off the handle in a rage.

7. Be prepared to act. If the other person digs in their heels, and you don’t want to deal with the repercussions, then be prepared to do some things yourself. This should be the exception to the rule though, not a modus operandi.

8. Acknowledge that your differences may be due to individual styles or approaches. Usually, there is more than one way to solve a problem. The amount of risk involved in each option may be different. Some people have a lower tolerance for risk than others. By acknowledging that often there is no single “right” way, conflicts are minimized.

9. Work together as much as possible. Ask questions like, “What can we do to figure this out in a way that makes sense for both of us?” By focussing on solving the problem using a teamwork approach, you take the focus off the problem and put it on the solution. By doing so, conflict transforms into collaboration.

These are not foolproof suggestions and I can’t guarantee they’ll work 100% of the time. What I can say is that I’ve used these techniques at home and at work and often the result is even better than I expected.


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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

Are you looking for a speaker for your next event? Book me (Sarah Eaton) for your next event (either live or via webinar)! Contact us for details. Follow Dr. Sarah on Twitter.

How to do a Screen Capture on Your Mac (video tutorial)

Last week in the Build Your Own Webinar course that I’m teaching we were talking about the various ways to make your slides and handouts engaging. If you are demonstrating something technical, one of the ways to show people what you mean is to include a screen capture from your computer.

There are a number of Mac users in the course and one of them asked how to do a screen capture (also called a “screen shot”).

So, here’s a quick video tutorial on how to do just that. Jennifer, this one is for you.


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Are you looking for a speaker for your next event? Book me (Sarah Eaton) for your next event (either live or via webinar)! Contact us for details. Follow Dr. Sarah on Twitter.

Secrets Ghandi Knew About Learning Languages

Regular readers of this blog know about my passion for connecting language learning to leadership. I truly believe that language learning helps us to improve our leadership skills, understand others with a deeper sense of compassion and see the world in wiser ways. I am inspired by the work of Gandhi, who was a strong advocate of learning second and foreign languages.

Here’s a reprint of an article that was published on the topic. It was originally published in Zephyr, the newsletter of the Second Languages and Intercultural Council (SLIC) of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. It is reprinted here with permission:
Gandhi and Language Promotion (Zephyr 2009)

Are you looking for a speaker for your next event? Book me (Sarah Eaton) for your next event (either live or via webinar)! Contact us for details. Follow Dr. Sarah on Twitter.

Exceptional Webinars Made Easy: Book Trailer

Many of you know me as a language teacher and literacy advocate, with a love of leadership and all things tech.

Over the past several months, I’ve been working on a book manuscript to help non-profit organizations, entrepreneurs and small businesses learn how to develop, produce and deliver webinars for both promotion and training purposes. The result is Exceptional Webinars Made Easy. It is a step-by-step manual that guides you through the development of a webinar. It is currently available as a Kindle e-book and will be published as a paperback by the end of the year.

This preview includes the Table of Contents (to show you what is in the rest of the book), the Introduction, and a few pages from the end of the book.

Thanks to everyone who has given me some great feedback on the book! If you’re so inclined, I’d be grateful for a positive review on Amazon.com

Exceptional Webinars Made Easy – Book Preview

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Are you looking for a speaker for your next event? Book me (Sarah Eaton) for your next event (either live or via webinar)! Contact us for details. Follow Dr. Sarah on Twitter.

Keeping it simple

Dr. Sarah takes complex or overwhelming ideas and makes them simple. She empowers audiences to maximize their leadership potential by demonstrating how to incorporate a few small changes that make a big difference in their management and marketing principles.