You may not like it, but it’s worth it.

Allison Muir

Life isn’t easy — this is a well known fact — but as individuals we try to make things as easy as possible for ourselves. However, when working in a team or group, compromising personal ease may benefit everyone in such a way that the end goal is more readily met. If compromise has the potential to be so beneficial, why is it so hard to navigate? As a leader or team member, it will take patience, trust, and understanding to realize that compromise is not an admission of failure or mistake, but rather a mature decision of inclusion and acceptance of opinion.

Due likely to our surrounding culture and desire for success, it is not uncommon for failure to be at the front of everyone’s mind when working towards a common goal. As individuals we may be hesitant to accept the vision or ideas of another over our own, but this single-minded thinking will not progress the group and will likely set progress back. In order for a team or group to succeed, there must be trust and the unpoken understanding that no one is right about everything 100% of the time. I recently have been humbled in leadership settings when I learn more from those around me about the topic I am the supposed “leader” on. I have personally had to realize that asking for help, compromising, or changing a standpoint on an issue will most likely be more beneficial than painful in the long run.

Donna Randall, in support of her stance on compromise, draws attention to the words and actions of Gerald Ford. “During the hearings on his nomination for vice president in 1973, then-Congressman Gerald Ford noted, ‘I believe in friendly compromise. . . Compromise is the oil that makes governments go.’…He was successful as a Congressional leader because he understood the necessity of compromise in creating change and serving the public interest.” Although the groups I have worked in have not been as influential as a Congressional meeting nor focused on a such a lofty goal of serving public interest, friendly compromise has still been necessary.

All of the individuals in a group have different experience and opinions that shapes their decision process in a unique way. While it is true that some decisions or ideas may be “better” or more applicable than others, in order for a group to operate smoothly, all members must feel motivated and therefore included. By compromising and actively listening to everyone in a group, the likelihood of consistent motivation is much greater than if a leader dictated their personal decisions throughout a group. A group will be able to face any problem as a united team if all members feel included and loyal to eachother — if the can trust that their voice will be heard and valued.

Recently in class and blogs we have discussed the potential group dynamics of givers and takers; perhaps givers are able to navigate groups so easily because they are willing to compromise their personal standing in lieu of that of another for the benefit of the team. Takers willingly accept the sway of others to their decisions and matchers, who strive for balance, would likly lean towards compromise no matter the direction just to see a solution. Givers alone would sacrifice their personal standing and position while also eagerly taking up those of another in the group. However, it should be clear that compromise is not a surrender of opinion and ideas; it is a give and take of everyone involved — no matter the position — so that all are accounted for.

It may be valuable to focus on bettering ourselves as leaders or individuals with diverse leadership skills, but such development always seems to come back to the most important lessons of leadership being centered on the relationships we hold with others. The better we know ourselves, the more we are able to interact with others in a positive and productive manner. No matter my position in a group, I will always want to do things “my way,” but by way of compromise I am still learning of all the benefits and advancements that may arise. For it’s not easy to trust others and give up a portion of control, but when done, the benefits of the outcome and lessons for the future are worth it.