Many years ago, I learned a neat trick from Zig Ziglar during his presentation.
Zig asked the audience what was important to them. He had them shout out their answers as he wrote them on an overhead projector. There were quite a few things on that list of common interests. Here are the top seven, as I remember them.
That list is pretty much a list of priorities as well as the major interests of the audience.
Since then, whenever I speak to individuals or groups, I either ask that question, as Zig did, or else I listen carefully in conversation and notice when people mention their interests.
Especially when people get to talking about their work, a number of those topics come up, and I make mental notes that later become blog posts. The answers are always very much the same, and generally in this order of precedence.
Why Are My People’s Interests Important?
You may be thinking “At my work, we just have a job to do. What’s the significance of what people want?” The answer is simply that it is valuable information to help you motivate and enable them to work closer their peak of potential.
As Benjamin Franklin so accurately said: “If you would persuade, appeal to interest, rather than logic.” Keep in mind that people’s interests are not necessarily logical, and logical viewpoints on significance vary widely.
7 Steps To Enhance Your Effectiveness
- Set the example. Your people see you as the personification of how things are done. I is in your own best interest to model the qualities that you want your followers to exhibit. To see a real example from my life, see this post
- Show genuine personal interest in your people, without undue fraternization. Learn about your people by asking general questions about their families and hobbies. Remember what you learn and ask about those things from time to time. (e.g. “Robby, how’s your wife and baby doing?” Or “Amy, did you make that hole in one on Saturday?” A little personal interest will improve your style and elevate you in your followers’ eyes.
- Absolutely prohibit any belittling of anyone, by anyone on your team. Allowing anyone to make any one of your people the brunt of jokes, for example, may seem like harmless fun, but it is destructive to everyone. It stifles creativity and productivity. Warning: You owe it to everyone on the team to enforce clear, high standards of conduct. I use a two strike rule for this. I’ll counsel after the first infraction, and send the violator packing with the second. One rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel.
- Always strengthen and encourage. Be a guide. Even for your problem people. Try to catch problem people doing something right and commend them. Your job as a leader is to build your people up to be able to do your job, so they can move onwards and upwards. As my friend, Dan Miller of 48 Days.com fame says: “A rising tide raises all ships.”
- Seek your people’s help in setting the goal and the plan. You do not have to act on all, or any of their suggestions, but seeking their ideas will make them feel like a valuable part of the team.
- Clearly explain the goal, the plan and the part each member plays in its accomplishment. When people know what’s going on, they can contribute to course changes, if something gets a little off.
- Don’t micromanage. Give your people freedom to be creative, within boundaries. For example, you can limit the amount of money they can spend without your approval, or implementation of an idea that violates or has any effect on customary policies.
Any leader can use these 7 steps to improve his or her leadership effectiveness, without relinquishing any authority to make final, expensive or policy altering decisions.
Using these 7 steps has been proven in real life situations the world over to increase morale, productivity and initiative in those who follow the leader.
Your ideas are important
Don’t take your knowledge that can enrich others to the grave with you. Please share your thoughts or answer one or more of these questions in the comments.
Do you find any of these 7 steps challenging? Have you used any or all of them in the past? What were your results?
If you have a question that is of a private nature, use the form below to contact me directly.