Sex sells and whatever the man in this picture is sellin’, many people are buyin’. Not a new idea. Principles aren’t sexy and they just don’t sell well. Maybe a note for leaders to consider. The media, entertainment, and beauty industry have figured out how to influence their buyers and they rinse and repeat the process like a shampoo product. Leaders, on the other hand, try to influence, but do it while talking about things that just aren’t appealing. Principles. But they need to be clear to those you have the privilege of leading, right? But who wants to talk about the rules that govern your organization? Boring! Who wants to dig into the notion of culture, vision, or company direction? Yawn. But if we ask who wants to get everyone going in the same direction, producing triple the numbers of last year, with minimal conflict, drama, or difficult people relations? Every real leader on the planet. Perhaps we need to clarify those principles differently. Perhaps we need real influence. When trying to sell concepts to those we lead and clarifying the principles in which no one is really interested, start in these three areas with an approach that might be a different.
The principles by which we lead, develop, work, and relate are really nothing more than the rules that govern our actions, behaviors, and interactions. In an organization’s culture these could include how we treat each other, how we encourage others, how we handle defeat or change, and how we determine what is appropriate based on the environment in which we work and how we interpret it. Whoa. That description alone would make the average leader check out and do something else. So, let’s do different. Today. Identify the most important rules if you will of the culture you work in, or wish to create and lead within. Maybe yours are the customer is always right, we do whatever it takes to do what we say, and we find a way to have fun no matter what the project. Or these might be examples to get you started. Determine your top three and run them by those you lead. If no one’s excited about those, then they’re not really the rules you are currently following. Or you have a team of people who is not right for the culture you want to create. Lead the clarification of the difference. For everyone to embrace the culture you wish you had or want to create, everyone needs to see the rules you state as the ones that are plausible for the team in place. They have to see them as appealing and it is that appeal that will motivate them to help you make it happen.
Similar to your culture, your community also has a set of guidelines and principles under which it is operating. Do you have a principle you personally follow that governs public criticism or public social media bashing or what you’re willing to put out there on the internet? How do those you lead treat each other, treat you, and show up to the outside world as a community? Are we all in this together? Does one department have no clue what the other is doing? Is each leader siloed or mired in their own division’s efforts? Want to sell united principles in this area? Determine quickly what is appealing to the very community you’ve hired. If they all came to work where you lead because they care about the service you provide and how it helps people, then the principles followed for working here better include helping each other internally, as well. Sell the team on what led them to join your company naturally. Engage and influence their performance by lining up the community guidelines with their natural preference, intention, and motivation.
Communication is the skill to be mastered in influence and selling and communication is not the same as telling. Senior leaders who tell team members what the rules are what the principles are that we follow around here, often find themselves managing a revolving door of turnover. Ask those you lead what they value. Ask those questions in interviews. Ask those questions in one-on-one meetings. And then keep asking. What is valued by those you lead and what brought them here and why do they stay? Even the data from exit interviews is helpful, though shows up in bad timing. It’s your communication that will not only share information but gather it. It’s your communication that will allow you to have your words match your actions. And it’s your communication that is the result of the principles you are already following. What you tell others is based on what you believe needs to happen or should have happened or is appropriate for this scenario. What you sell others is based on what you realize they would like to have happen, would like to have done, or would like to accomplish. Tell all you want if your only real interest is in having your principles known in these three areas. But, if what you want is principles put into action that are embraced by all those you have the privilege of leading, you’ll need to involve them in the process from the beginning. Influence is a joint effort, as is leadership, and while neither might be what we call sexy, both, done well, create an environment in which people love to immerse themselves. Don’t you want people coming to work with the same enthusiasm and hope they have when they purchase a product that promises to make them look or feel younger, thinner, or stronger, but then also really makes those promises happen?
Ready to Take the Become a Better Leader Challenge?
Each Monday Moment with Monica shares a Become a Better Leader Challenge relevant to that week’s topic and this week, your challenge is far simpler than exercises in this area are often presented. Find your top three principles in each area. Don’t put this off and don’t overthink it. Determine what rules govern your team’s culture, community feel (both internally and externally) and communication. With those top three rules in each area in hand, your next step will be to look at policies, processes, and actions for which team members are punished, to find areas where there is a match and areas where there needs to be changes.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week and of course, stay Contagious!
Monica Wofford, CSP develops leaders. CEO of Contagious Companies, her firm designs and delivers leadership training for those managers who’ve been promoted, but not prepared. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.