Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thou Shall Not Manipulate!

Every good thing has a bad side, right? And the bad side of persuasion is manipulation. A good leader persuades his team to get on board, helps them see the benefits of working together and outlines the positive future of the project or idea. A bad leader goes one step further and manipulates his team to get what he wants. Know the difference.

Let's look to politics to see an example of this that everyone can understand.

Imagine a political candidate. He wants to get that position -- he wants you to like him! He makes lots of promises to you, the voters, so that you will support him and his agenda and vote him into office. Once there, faced with the limitations of the position and the politics surrounding it, he isn't able to make good on all of those promises. Voters are discouraged, but he got what he wanted, so who cares, right?

How many of you have been one of those voters, completely disenchanted with the lack of follow-through with your elected leaders?

So don't be that way with your employees!

Don't make a promise you can't keep. If you have to promise your employees something that you can't keep in order to get them to buy into your idea or project, perhaps you should reconsider the potential success of your project.

Don't ask your employees to do something you aren't willing to do yourself. The best way to persuade your team to get behind your idea is to get in, on the ground floor, and be willing to do the grunt work yourself. If they see that you are willing to get your hands dirty to make the project successful, they will be more willing to do so as well.

Do share the long-term benefits with your team, not just at the beginning when you are trying to get their support, but throughout the project. Help your team keep their eyes on the prize and share your hope and passion with them, as hope and passion are infectious!

Do LISTEN. If you are the great leader that I know you are, then you have surrounded yourself with a great team, filled with intelligent, insightful people. Listen to their feedback. Don't assume that your idea is perfect, that your project is flawless. Most likely there is room for improvement. Valuing your team's input and listening to and addressing their concerns will help them feel more comfortable with the project's future success, and more willing to work hard toward making the project successful. Willingness to listen and implement your team's insight into your plan is crucial to getting their support and buy in -- the quickest way to a failure is assuming that you have all the answers.

Getting your team behind you is not hard if you are putting your team first. A great leader ignites passion in his team and accomplishes great things because he relies on the joint efforts of many to bring the idea to fruition. His team knows he cares for them and they, in turn, care for what the leader cares for and work to make it a success.

Be careful to avoid crossing the line and using your power as a leader to manipulate and deceive to accomplish your goals. You will find yourself at the end of the line, with no team behind you. Great teams support great leaders. Don't let the power go to your head and cross that line -- for what is a leader if he has no one following him?

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