September 9, 2003      



Hello, and welcome to the fifth issue of our Trust and Leadership newsletter and the fourth installment in our "Leadership Dim Sum" series.

What do you do when your past is haunting you, whether you deserve it or not? Our topic this month is A Grudge From the Past. It's not a comfortable situation, but it can't really be ignored.

If you're in the Boston area, you're invited to hear Rob speak at the Calkins Advisors Power Breakfast, part of a series of forums for senior executives to find new opportunities and build new relationships.
Date: October 14, 2003
Time: 7:30 AM networking/breakfast, 8:00 presentation, 8:50 Q & A, 9:15 closing remarks
Cost: $50 includes breakfast, presentation, and a copy of The Trusted Leader
Where: Doubletree Guest Suites, Waltham
To Register: call 508-435-1036

Please forward this newsletter to your colleagues and friends who are interested in organizational and leadership issues. Your feedback is always welcome at

-Rob and Anne-


The authors

The Trusted Leader

Previous Issues:

Meddling with Mediocrity

Surviving the Porcupine

How Intimate is Your Inner Circle?


Next month's serving of Dim Sum: The High-Level Clique


You’ve been tarred with an unfair brush. Another member of the inner circle tangled with you on an issue years ago – early in your careers – and he still carries a grudge.

You weren’t the instigator; it was your boss at the time who went after him. But there it is, and because he was “in” before you were, you’ve been put on the defensive.

You approached him recently to try to resolve the situation (again) – but he won’t hear of it. He thinks you’re just trying to undermine him, get him in trouble.

Things to think about: What if anything can be done? How does one forge a working relationship without trust? Should you enlist others to help you? To endorse you? To say to him: “He’s not so bad; give him a chance?” Should you approach the guy through text instead of in person? Would the method of communication make a difference?

Ask yourself if it’s necessary to resolve the “old issue,” or if you would be better off to rebuild trust by looking forward. (We cover rebuilding trust in detail in chapter 13, and you can get an overview of the concepts on our website.) And keep in mind that if you ask others to help you out, you run the risk of your request getting back to this guy, and annoying him even more.

About the best you can do is to appeal to him directly, asking flat out what it might take to bury the hatchet. But unless there is a need to force the issue and resolve the “cold war” you may be kind of stuck. Rob’s father also used to say, “it’s hard work to change a bigot.” And in fact, you may not be able to. At best you may be able to change the views of those around him.

~ ~ ~

How about you? Have you ever found yourself in the awkward situation of working with someone with whom you tangled in the past? How did it go? Let us know.


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