Backstage Interview: Focus on Moving Forward

How can you move forward when dealing with difficult people?


Leadercast main stage speaker, Aja Brown, mayor of Compton, California, talks about the importance of moving forward when dealing with difficult people. Aja shares that even in challenging conversations with difficult people, leaders have the ability to identify the greater good and work to move forward. Many people function in the direction of their own specific interests rather than matters of principle. However, when moving in the direction of change or embarking on a new initiative, leaders will often encounter resistance.

Moving forward can help leaders focus on the outcomes of a situation and the people who desire to go in the direction their envision rather than concentrating on the challenges, roadblocks or difficult people in their organization or on their team. The focus on moving forward also creates momentum. 

Watch the video to hear how you can let your work speak for itself and use that to make a substantial impact on people.

When I'm in the middle of a battle or a heated conversation or discussion, I'm always focused on what is the outcome that I'm trying to achieve. Regardless of whether or not two people agree, there has to be some middle ground. And if there's any way that we can find some type of common understanding then we can move forward. I think that it's unreasonable to believe that people are always going agree with you. But if you can really agree on the greater good, then you should be able to move forward.

I think there's politics in everything. And I think we're more political than we even recognize but I think that whenever you're doing something there's going to be opposition. And so I don't have an expectation that everyone is going to agree with what I think or what I'm doing. And so all I need is the few people that do and we'll continue to move forward. And I think that some people waste a lot of time focusing on people that are naysayers or people that may not be able to perceive or they don't even have the ability to understand you know where it is that leader is going. But that's really the definition of leadership: you see things that other people don't see.

And so I focus on the outcomes, on making the goals and just winning every day. And I think that is key to make sure you have tunnel vision and you really have to have ear plugs in. And I think that it's amazing that there's an inherent resilience that is built when leaders are in very stark circumstances. And I can say that in the city of Compton it's no different. There's politics but I think that the biggest thing is to find people that have a shared interest with you and that they really want goals that you're leading. At the end of the day, magnetism is really amazing because it creates a multiplication effect. And so we've been able to just let the work speak for itself.

I focus on the win because, at the end of the day, that's the reason why we do what we're doing, is to be able to have impact, is to be able to move forward and effect change. And I don't think any leader desires to get into a position just to maintain the status quo. So I have an expectation that there is going to be change. There is going to be something different that happens because I'm here. So I focus on how do we move forward in that day, if it's one day at a time, if it's one week at a time, but I'm just always focusing on moving forward.

Aja Brown

On June 4, 2013, Aja Brown made history as the City of Compton’s youngest elected mayor at the age of 31. With more than 10 years of experience in community and economic development, Mayor Brown has proven to be a strategic visionary ...

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