How wonderful is it to be able to access the best thinkers in the world and have them contribute to your world?
In recent months, I have been very privileged to read and view some highly intelligent people discuss a wide range of subject matters revolving around leadership and management.
Why did I need to do this? Because I have a hell of a lot to learn about both of these areas.
So, the journey I have taken has been somewhat long, circuitous and arduous, but I have learned a great deal.
This post could end up being a book on its own and I don’t want to bore you (if anyone is reading this) witless – you’d be far better off going and watching some Greg Kyte videos - he is far smarter and funnier than I will ever be! Either that or have a read through David Thorne’s work – one of the funniest blokes on the planet.
I will attempt to bring all this reading and viewing down into some useful points that others may gain some value from. Here goes.
People Need to be Treated as People
Over the journey I have seen many people who make it all about themselves. They will pick people up and shower them with things, praise and the like until they have what they want and then they will drop them. Quickly. When they get treated the same way, they often “ark up” because it is so rude and unfair. Needless to say, they generally end up alone.
There is an old adage about treating people the way you like to be treated. It is very simple. Easy to understand. When you make this a concentrated effort, you will find good things start to happen and your credibility goes up.
Trust is the guts of it - in yourself, them and lots of others, but I strongly recommend you read “Smart Trust” by Stephen M R Covey – gets the point across very well but you need to trust yourself first.
Make it All About Them
The journey so far has enabled me to see a couple of different styles of leader. The two styles can be broken down as follows:
- Those who make themselves feel big by making everyone else feel small; or
- Those who make themselves feel big by making everyone else feel bigger.
You cannot build people or a family or a business by breaking people down. It might sound stupid, but you build them by building them. I have seen a number of people over the past years who focussed so much on their own success that they left everyone else behind. Needless to say, they generally end up alone. And bitter.
Be Honest and Open
By taking this approach, you never have to remember lies or mistruths that you may have spoken. As Ronald Regan said:
“I’m not smart enough to lie”.
It must be remembered that when you are having to have an “unpalatable” discussion, you need to ensure that the discussion is about the issue, not the person. By trying to minimise the impact of unpleasant matters that do need to be discussed, often times, we will avoid doing this – the outcome from adopting this approach is that the issue ends up becoming even worse. I can recommend you read the book “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott – this will help you get a handle on not only how but why you need to get the openness and honesty thing happening.
If, however, you try and rationalise everything, forget it. You will generally end up alone. And bitter and twisted.
Challenge Yourself and Everyone Else
Finding out what actually motivates people and where their strengths lie is a great way of getting people to develop and flourish. Marcus Buckingham has presented some wonderful videos on Youtube which explain this very well.
When you get the feeling that you are “in the zone”, playing to your strengths and enjoying what you do because it “feels easy”, then you will grow and develop and you’ll share that with the people around you. But, you have to start with yourself.
Unfortunately, there are people out there who don’t want to challenge themselves first. By not doing this, they don’t become authentic leaders (or people) because they haven’t been on the trip themselves and therefore cannot give the support and guidance required for others when they try and go on this journey. They generally find that they don’t have long term work relationships and their social relationships are usually spasmodic/episodic.
When you adopt this approach, you will generally end up alone. And bitter and twisted. And self-obssessed.
Give a Lot Back
The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed. Henry Ford
I know there are a lot of people who do not necessarily believe in giving – I’m not referring here to just money. I am talking about the sharing of knowledge and wisdom. As my friend Ron Baker says – knoweldge is a non-rival asset – he can share his knowledge with me - I now have it but he still has it – in other words, by sharing, it is expanded. Giving a lot back needs to be about helping others develop and learn from your and others’ experiences.
In many professional firms, I see Partners and senior people who are loathe to share their knowledge because they have a fear that the knowledge they share may make them redundant or they “might be found out”. This is also the case in business where the owners and managers of some businesses will be scared of letting go. By giving back to the people around you, sharing your version of reality and helping them understand new and different points of view, you are helping them develop. You are giving them the tools that will help them further develop others. There are a lot of wonderful quotes about education and the legacy it leaves. By giving back to everyone around you, there is a deep feeling of satisfaction in seeing their confidence, self esteem and competence improve.
Where people are scared to give for fear of, well, I don’t know what, I find it terribly sad. They will generally end up alone. And bitter and twisted.
Understand “The Rules”
From my readings and watchings (yes, I know), there is a chord that struck me very clearly from Patrick Lencioni. He talks about “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team” and it all starts with trust (Aha! I hear you say). It develops from there and much of what he has to say supports and is supported by the things I have mentioned above. I strongly recommend you take 40 minutes of your time and have a look at his lecture at the Royal Albert Hall.
When you consider the issues he raises about teams and why they don’t work (and, conversely, why they do), it becomes apparent that most of the issues are about having clarity about goals and where you are going, agreeing on what is acceptable behaviour and getting everyone prepared to have “fierce conversations” on the road to getting there. Couple that with the thinking of Simon Sinek and you get the idea about why working toward something that is worthwhile and “valuable” in the true sense gets things going.
There are a number of people in the world who have only one vision – to make as much money as possible. They are not inspiring anyone apart from their bank manager (and barely even them). “Obsession with possession” will generally cause those who aren’t prepared to share, develop and support those around them to lose sight of what is really important. Their families, friends and work colleagues are merely cogs in a wheel rolling toward a destination that has no intrinsic value. They will generally end up alone. And bitter.
People are Irrational
In recent years, the field of behavioural economics has developed and, I must admit to being a bit of a convert to the thinking that is bound up around this school of thought.
We generally believe that people are rational sensible and (effectively) predictable. Nothing could be further from the truth. I recommend that you have a watch of Dan Ariely discuss this as it will challenge the way you approach your interactions with people. Couple this with the presentation by Dan Pink and you will start to see that people want to have interactions that actually “mean” something.
Where folk look at people as cogs in a wheel and use their personal focus on money to believe they can get the best out of people through money alone, they will generally find that those who work FOR them will not give the v0luntary effort that they could. In effect, if you treat people purely as commodities to be exploited, they will repay you with that level of engagement. When people such as this are more driven by what they can get from people rather than what they can give, they forget about what it is that the people they are using really want and desire. As a consequence, they will generally end up alone.
It is all about people. Working WITH them, focussing on developing their strengths and having clarity about why you are all doing what you are doing will help them be more engaged and more effective. You will enjoy the journey more and they will be more than happy to come along with you on that journey.
A lot of people out there have a fear of adopting this approach due to a lack of self esteem or trust in themselves.
I feel sorry for them as they will never know the true satisfaction that comes from seeing the crew they work with become much better in every sense of the word.