How did John Springett succeed with someone who overpowered others, in a culture that rewarded domineering managers? First, he learned the agency culture and met with the people who had control over his mission to learn their interests and concerns. Then he thought about Carl’s situation: “Nobody wanted to go back to Congress and be denied again, so Carl had an incentive to go along,” Springett remarked. Moreover, Springett understood a key fact about people like Carl: they respect others who are strong. “I think I surprised him by walking in that way. I was willing to say that his vaunted unit wasn’t doing proper analyses.”
Third, Springett didn’t threaten Carl. “I said that we would work with them. I wasn’t confrontational; since ...

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