I recently read a fascinating book called Give And Take By Adam Grant. In the book, Grant states that he believes that people can be behaviorally broken up into three categories: Givers, Matchers, and Takers. Givers, Grant states, are those who give to others more than they receive on a regular basis. Takers are those who take more than give, and matchers pursue interactions and outcomes that are even. No matter what category someone finds themselves, Grant states that balance is required to improve behaviors and personal outcomes. I just read this quote and it got me thinking,
“Just as matchers will sacrifice their own interests to punish takers who act selfishly toward others, they’ll go out of their way to reward givers who act generously toward others.”
Could it be that matchers are more malleable and influenced by givers and takers? The act of punishing is generally seen as an emotional justice rather than objective one. While our emotions play a vital role in making wise decisions, the purely emotional decisions we make are often self-centered and focused on the immediate outcome. In this way, punishment and purely emotional justice would be the behavior of a taker. There is a story of a Native American tribe in which an individual from outside the tribe murdered an individual within the tribe. While the family of the murdered man pleaded with the chief to execute the murderer as punishment, the chief, after listening carefully to everyone who spoke, decided that the murderer should be taken into the tribe and to be “loved as the one who was taken from us was loved.” In response to his decision, the murderer lost his composure and broke down sobbing. This act of giving and loving; of acceptance and belonging, taught the man more than any punishment would. A matcher following the taking role would have pushed for an eye for an eye and had the man executed. However, the chief pursued the giving role. He took the emotion and struggle of the situation and matched it with objective problem-solving. Giving does not have to be naive; in fact, it rarely is. The issue is that we mistake idealism with naivety. In fact, I believe that the most pressing issue is that matchers may be the least objective of the three personalities; allowing their emotions to dictate their actions and reactions.
I feel that to best explain the interaction of Matchers with Takers and Givers is through two spectrums in conjunction.
Givers, Matchers, & Takers
When I began reading Give And Take, I imagined the three personalities like this:
This gradient would show the amount of giving that an individual does and that we all land somewhere on this line.
However, taking into account the thought that Matchers may be the more emotional of the three, I believe that Grant is actually trying to explain the spectrum as this:
In this spectrum, we focus on what CBT therapists would call the level of “mindfulness.” With the emotional mind on the left (Matchers) and rational mind on the right (takers), the center of the gradient would be a balance of both emotional mind and rational mind, creating the “wise” mind.*
With Matchers being more easily swayed by their emotional response to the actions of others, they respond in a quid pro quo fashion. Takers, on the other side of the spectrum, focus on calculated actions that focus on their own outcomes. Both Matchers and Takers are acting out of a fundamentally selfish perspective, as their actions are more short-sighted. That is, they look to an end or an accomplishment that is foreseeable from their actions. This puts Givers right in the middle.
The importance of balance
In the same way, that emotion and objectivity individually can pose a challenge. While the balance of both is ideal, Matchers and Takers can pose challenges to those around them and even themselves, but the Giver mentality is ideal. Givers, as stated before, are rarely naive, and they are even more rarely calculating. They are a perfect balance of the motivations for Takers and Givers, which creates a beautiful symmetry of both strengths with neither of their weaknesses.
Givers are altruistic in nature, focusing on how to benefit others because it makes the world a better place. This perspective would not be possible without connecting to the human element and utilizing emotion as a fuel for our rational, objective engine. It is why we do things that drive change, but it is how and what we do that puts that change into action.
If you would like to learn more, I encourage you to pick up his book. You can find it here.
*terms “Emotional Mind,” “Rational Mind,” and “Wise Mind,” are from a psychoeducational treatment called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
I had a meeting between a business and their client the other day. The client felt slighted and unsupported by the company while the company felt disrespected and abused by the client. The client and the company would take turns complaining about the other party’s behavior, and the accused party would deny any such behavior.
It is a conflict with which many of us are familiar. A family member hurts our feelings, and we spend hours, even days, arguing about who hurt who worse. What I have come to believe after working with families, individuals, and companies in these situations is that the current conflict has only a small role to play with regards to the greater issue. The key is to identify what that role is, and why it is important at this moment. Here are some techniques I utilize when working with conflict.
First and foremost, avoid attributing blame. Just don’t do it. This is the number one time waster and relationship killer when in conflict-management mode. Two outcomes are possible from attributing blame. Either the blamed person stands by their action and resents the accusation, or they deny that it ever happened or the validity of your feelings about it. Either way, no one comes out feeling better about the situation. Instead, set the past aside. You need to focus on the present and the future in order to have progress, and blame has no place in either.
Next, it is important to be direct and say what is actually wanted. When you want to order at a fast-food restaurant do you go to the counter and say, “I don’t want pickles and I don’t want cheese,” and get frustrated when they don’t give you exactly what you want. Of course you don’t. You tell the employee exactly what you want. “I want a burger with lettuce and onion, hold the pickles and cheese.” In the same way, when you are asking others to change how they interact with you, avoid saying what doesn’t work and instead focus on listing what does work. This isn’t to say listing actions to avoid is a waste of time; on the contrary. This is invaluable information for the listener. However, if we do not focus on giving others examples of what makes us feel loved and appreciated, then we are just giving them examples of what not to do, only aiding in narrowing the possible ways to behave. Give them a hand and just tell them outright what works.
The next task is to give each other time to understand what is actually being communicated. While we may be speaking the same language, communication styles can make it seem like we are from different worlds. This is because every individual has a unique worldview; their collection of beliefs, goals, and values. Often the environment in which we grow, styles of communication are taught inadvertently. What is offensive or damaging in one environment may be the status-quo method of communicating needs in a healthy and direct way. Because of this, it is vital that time is taken to fully understand what each party is trying to communicate. Often the conflict develops out of differing communication styles.
Finally, maintain a heart of empathy and respect. Each one of us has a vibrant and dynamic life we live. We have all learned ways to survive and thrive in this often too confusing world. Remember to respect every opinion as valid and vital in the progress of a healthy family or business.
There are difficult clients and difficult agencies in business. In our personal lives, there are difficult neighbors, friends, and even family. No matter the conflict, no matter those involved, there is blame to be shared. So set the blame aside and focus on constructive ways to move forward and avoid creating similar hardships in the future.
If you would like to learn more about these techniques and the conflict-management process, I have listed two helpful books below for your reference. They have been invaluable and are utilized in numerous academic settings. In future posts I will discuss these books in depth.
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg
People Styles at Work… And Beyond by Robert Bolton
Ambition can often overflow when we have a vision of what goal we want to achieve. We think about all of the ways our life, and the lives of others may be better by having our ideas realized.
But many people stop with just the vision. Their dreams build expectation without any follow through for one simple reason.
They don’t know how to make an idea a reality.
Because this lack of follow-through is so pervasive, I want to share one of the greatest ways to create productive movement and set yourself up for success. The technique is powerful for multiple reasons. It’s easy to remember, the concept is simple (making it easy to teach), and most of all it works.
The technique is called S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Standing for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely, this acronym can help with nearly every goal you wish to achieve. Whether you use it once to complete an entire plan, or break a larger goal down and utilize this technique repeatedly, S.M.A.R.T. goals direct your efforts efficiently towards productive outcomes so as to avoid action that may be counter-intuitive to what you are trying to achieve.
So how do you use S.M.A.R.T. goals?
The process is linear, starting with:
This step is about nailing down exactly what your goal is. Be as specific as possible here; what are you specifically wanting to achieve? Let’s say that you run a sporting goods store and the current plan is to increase sales of men’s sportswear in-store rather than online.
Now that the goal has been specified, let’s move on.
This step is where you determine how you will measure your goal. What is the tool of measurement which will help you know that you are attaining the set goal? Decide at what level of measurement you have achieved your goal. Don’t leave it at “more.” This is an arbitrary amount. How much more? For our example of men’s sportswear, would you be measuring the number of sales made? The amount of product sold? Give yourself a precise number or rate you which to achieve so that you can see exactly where you are in comparison to where you want to be. Let’s say that the measurement is a number of items sold daily. Now you have a reference for measuring your achievement.
For our example of men’s sportswear, would you be measuring the number of sales made? The amount of product sold? Give yourself a precise number or rate you which to achieve so that you can see exactly where you are in comparison to where you want to be. Let’s say that the measurement is a number of items sold daily. Now you have a reference for measuring your achievement.
This step is to make sure that your goal, and how you measure that goal, is something that you can realistically achieve. Don’t breeze over this step. If you have set the bar higher than you can reach, then you will set yourself up for failure.
If you are trying to increase your sales of Men’s sportswear (S) and are selling items at a rate of 10 per day (M), it may not be achievable to set the goal at 150 items daily. Give yourself a realistic, achievable goal. You can always set a new goal later. For now, you determine that increasing current sales from 10 items daily to 50 items daily is your desired result.
If you are trying to increase your sales of Men’s sportswear (S) and are selling items at a rate of 10 per day (M), it may not be achievable to set the goal at 150 items daily. Give yourself a realistic, achievable goal. You can always set a new goal later. For now, you determine that increasing current sales from 10 items daily to 50 items daily is your desired result.
For now, you determine that increasing current sales from 10 items daily to 50 items daily is your desired result.
This step is more of a gut-check and an increase of your mindfulness with regard to the goals you set for yourself or your business. Here you ask yourself, is this goal relevant to my overarching purpose? Is this goal going to achieve the fundamental objective of my goal?
If you are trying to increase your sales of men’s sportswear, but you run a gas station, then the goal may not be worthwhile at this time to pursue. Just because you feel that it is important right now, does not mean that it is worth your effort in the long run.
This is as simple as determining a due date for the goal. By when do you want to see this goal achieved? Remember to be realistic. You won’t be able to increase sales overnight, so don’t put that kind of unnecessary pressure on yourself.
When do you feel you can realistically achieve your goal? Use this timeframe as a motivator. For our sportswear example, this measurement of 50 items sold daily may be realistically achievable in the next year.
So the final result of this process spits out a goal that is manageable and productive. For our example, we created a goal to increase men’s sportswear from 10 items daily to 50 items daily within the next year.
This goal was also determined to be relevant to the purpose of your business because men’s sportswear is a large part of your business.
As you see here, this is a moderate goal. Moderate being that it is a part of a larger system (the entire sporting goods store), but can be broken down into smaller goals, such as determining how you will increase the daily sold items.
If you feel that the plan needs to be broken down in order to determine how it will be achieved, then break it down until the individual tasks are manageable and can be effectively delegated to the responsible parties.
I love using S.M.A.R.T. Goals. This technique is fantastic for professional success and personal achievement. It is quick to complete and easy to remember. Try using the skill and let me know how it goes.
I have a personal belief that a foundational knowledge of mental health, along with therapeutic techniques, is vital for an effective executive coaching practice. Currently, the vast majority of self-made executive and entrepreneurial coaches, such as many retired athletes and previous business moguls, have had no formal psychological or mental health training nor obtained any certifications in coaching.
The vast majority of self-made executive and entrepreneurial coaches have had no formal psychological or mental health training
Personally, I feel this is a risky practice. These individuals focus on providing coaching based upon their worldview; forcing their mantras as gospel upon their clients.
In order to push the field of executive and entrepreneurial coaching in the direction of evidence-based, client-centered, practices, I want to take the time to talk about how entrepreneurs and executives can benefit from the theories found in psychology.
To begin this process, let’s focus on the concept of Social Interest.
Coined by Alfred Adler, Social Interest, or “Gemeinschaftsgefuhl” in German (directly translating to community feeling) refers to the level to which an individual focuses their energy on the world around them. Adler believed that one’s mental well-being and their level of Social Interest was positively correlated. That is, the more socially interested an individual is, the healthier their mental state would be.
The concept of an individual’s mental health being directly connected to their level of social interest is also pretty logical.
The less time we spend inwardly focused, the more time we are able to spend bettering the world around us.
If someone is struggling with, say, depressive symptoms. They can spend a large amount of their day just focused on the inward struggles they are experiencing. This is the same for any mental health condition, and not even limited to those struggling at a diagnosable level.
So, if mental health conditions cause individuals to focus inwardly, then the more an individual is able to focus on events outside of themselves, the less their mental health symptoms are impacting their life. The less time we spend inwardly focused, the more time we are able to spend bettering the world around us.
But what does this have to do with business?
Why should any of this matter to an entrepreneur or executive?
Well, considering that 1 in 5 individuals lives with a mental health condition, anyone in a leadership position should not only understand how pervasive mental health issues are among their employees, they would benefit from realizing that this can also mean themselves. Which leads to three points.
First, spend time and money on the mental health of your staff. If they are struggling, then your business will be too. Provide services such as EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) and mental health sick days – because, let’s face it, some days we just need to recharge without having to also have the flu. Your employees will thank you, your customers will thank you, your shareholders will thank you.
Second, shine a light on your own actions and perspectives. How are you approaching your work? Are your actions based out of an inward focus; attempting to prove something to yourself and the world? Or are your actions motivated by Social Interest as you try to better the world around you?
Finally, this concept of Social Interest and the importance of our social connectedness is primarily held in mental health professions. Even though the evidence proves this is true, the benefits of spreading this knowledge are slow. This is why it is so very important that coaches also develop their understanding of mental health theories and concepts. Not only to increase an executive’s level of expertise but to provide them with insight that is based on more than a personal mantra.
A passion to help people improve is a rare and noble trait, but intentions alone can’t produce long-term success. It’s important that when looking for a coach, you find one that has the training to help achieve your desired results. If they are not trained to provide what you need, then move on. Take the time to make the best choice for yourself and your company.
If this article interested you, be sure to read the second installment, here.
Last week I wrote about the psychological concept of Social Interest. Specifically, how to increase our mindfulness in a business setting.
This week I want to discuss the concepts of Goal-Oriented Behavior and the 3 Universal Goals. We will see how these psychological concepts have been used to manipulate sales. We will also see how a business owner can improve their practices by increasing awareness of how these psychological concepts impact staff.
First and foremost, let’s define our terms.
Goal-Oriented Behavior is a psychological concept which states that every action we take, consciously or subconsciously, is a calculated attempt to obtain or maintain a specific goal which we have set for ourselves. Every action from when we speak, how we speak, what we wear, what we read, IF we read, has a specific psychological purpose behind it.
An example I like to use is the “actually” person.
behaviors are learned and sculpted by the combination of external and internal stimuli.
We all know someone who tries to be a know-it-all. It seems that every conversation you have with them brings a retort, “actually…” as they try to correct something you or someone else said. It’s like they can’t control themselves; that the mere presence of inaccurate information causes them to word-vomit and exorcise the fallacies from the room. This “actually” friend may not even realize why they have to correct you, but still, they do so.
Like a doctor tapping your knee, causing the patient’s foot to kick out. Except, the knee-jerk reaction is not just a physical response; it is behavioral. And behaviors are learned and sculpted by the combination of external and internal stimuli. But how do we set these “goals” for ourselves? Where do they even come from?
Enter Alfred Adler.
Adler believed that each human being is dynamically unique; our personalities as identifiable and unique as our fingerprints. We have vibrant passions, values, and beliefs that have sculpted us into the individuals we are and will become. But as unique as we all are from each other, every one of us is attempting to achieve the same three fundamental goals. These are the psychological goals of Significance, Security, and Belonging.
But as unique as we all are from each other, every one of us is attempting to achieve the same three fundamental goals. These are the goals of Significance, Security, and Belonging.
Titled the Three Universal Goals, Adler explains that every human being, no matter how, is constantly striving to achieve these three goals. Let’s look at each goal individually.
In our world, whether it be our social circle or professional network, we desire to feel significant to those around us. We want to maintain a sense that, if we were to vanish, the lack of our presence would have an impact on those who knew us. Think back to our example of the “actually” person.
By correcting other people’s statements, are they not attempting to establish a sense of significance in those conversations? The desire for fame is another fantastic example of seeking significance. The hope of getting our 15-minutes of fame and the lengths to which people are willing to go shows how important the concept of significance is to us.
The goal of security focuses on our level of safety in our environment. Think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for this goal. We strive for an environment of safety so that we are not in a constant state of survival.
By obtaining a sense of security, we are able to let our guard down and focus on living and growing, rather than fighting to survive. For this goal, we focus our energies on finding social circles and professional environments that provide a sense of safety.
Think about it this way: would you rather work at a company that consistently threatens your job in order to balance the books or one that has a no-firing policy?
Finally, we have the goal of belonging. This goal is focused on social interactions and how we fit into the world around us. Where significance is a striving to feel influential and security is the desire to feel protected from the world’s dangers, belonging focuses on how we fit into our environments.
This concept is as simple as our desire to find like-minded individuals and surround ourselves with those people. Similarly, if we are attempting to achieve a sense of professional belonging, we may seek out purpose-driven companies.
If we were to have the same beliefs as the company we work for, then wouldn’t we feel a belonging to that company? We are attempting to achieve a sense of belonging when we identify with cultures and sub-cultures. It is within a larger purpose that we find this sense of belonging.
So what does this have to do with business?
If you take a walk through your nearby department store, you will find countless companies marketing directly to these goals, hoping to trigger us to purchase their product. Most companies don’t realize that they are doing it, but their message is all the same. “With our product, you will finally be successful/significant/one of us.”
By using these marketing tactics, businesses are attempting to trigger their target audience into buying their product.
Effective business and marketing strategies focus on connecting the product to the fulfillment of one of these goals. Car commercials focusing on “standing out” from the crowd try to appeal to our desire for significance, insurance companies focusing on taking care of the customer – such as Allstate’s Slogan: “Your In Good Hands” – appeals to our desire for security, and a company making the customer feel that they are part of a movement or culture by buying their product (Apple, I’m looking at you) appeals to our desire for belonging. These practices are effective because they target something deeper than our habits, they target our motivations.
The cornerstone is in making the connection between the existence of a product. How it helps the consumer achieve their goals.
As a business owner, you will want to see what need your product meets, and why that is important to the consumer. Companies often make the mistake of just finding an opportunity in the market and attempting to fill it with a product. The product is only a small part of the sales experience.
It’s about making the connection between the existence of a product and how it helps the consumer achieve their goals. Having a company articulate their purpose using the language of goal-oriented behavior will provide consumer loyalty.
This is also vital behavior for within a company. Every employee is a human being striving for significance, security, and belonging. An executive would do a disservice to their employees and their company if decisions were made without the psychological decision-making of a goal-oriented awareness.
This means a company should focus their team development around providing a sense of significance to their staff. Focusing on an assurance that the staff is secure in their workplace and that they are working for something greater than themselves. Focus on the motivation behind the action. Connect with staff on a visceral level.
Understanding psychological behavior is a vital tool for a business owner. It not only provides marketing insight into people’s motivations, but it also helps us better understand how to support our staff.
The other day my wife and I were in the market for a new piece of equipment for an addition on the house. I knew that the price can vary pretty widely depending on the business. I wanted to make sure that I did some price shopping before making a purchase.
The first step of the process was to determine the right kind of product to meet my need, and that required a professional to take the measurements and make right recommendations.
I started off by doing a quick google search to find a location that sold what we needed. I gave them a call and made sure someone could give me the necessary recommendation. They encouraged us to head on over and look through their showroom.
So far so good.
After a quick drive across town, we arrived at the showroom and approached the front desk. We got our name in to see a consultant and made sure that they understood we were just looking for a measurement recommendation and a price check. We sat down and waited our turn.
Then things went downhill.
After a few minutes, the consultant-led us to their office where we reviewed different options for the house. Quickly it became evident that the consultant was under the impression that we were just there to make a purchase. My wife clarified that we were first and foremost there for guidance regarding which product to purchase, and then we wanted a quote on what they had in stock.
The consultant stopped in her tracks and stared at us for a few seconds, only to let out a slow, “….Oookay.”
“Is something wrong?” I asked, confused by the sudden apprehension.
She stood up and grabbed her measuring equipment and said, “Well, I’ve just never had someone come in just for a recommendation and a quote.”
“You’ve never had a customer collect prices and compare?” My wife asked.
“Nope. Never.” She said, bluntly. “I also don’t think it’s fair that I will do this work and not get the sale.”
For some reason, we began to reassure her that we still may purchase from the business. She just reiterated how offended she felt that we would ask for a quote rather than blindly purchase an expensive item.
After a few more exchanges with the consultant, we decided to leave without either the measurement recommendation or a quote. For the rest of the day, I was frustrated and stunned by the blatant disregard for the purpose of their business’s service. But as insulting as the experience was, it was also insightful.
Don’t Focus on the Sale
I realized that the treatment my wife and I experienced at the company’s showroom caused me to have a very specific reaction. Not only did we not want to work with this business, we specifically wanted to not work with them. It was not a pull to another agency, but a repelling away from that experience that now influenced our purchasing decision.
You see, if I organically decided to go with the competition, I would have been making a choice between two observedly good options. I would still feel comfortable referring to both companies for future purchases. However, the spirit of selfishness at the company caused our decision to be made out of principle. Even if they had a cheaper price, I still would have gone with another company.
Selling is not about making one transaction. It is about building a relationship and investing in your customer-base.
This difference in motivation is vitally important for every business owner to be able to understand. It is not just that a customer chose another company over you, it may be that the choice was specifically to not work with you, thus they went with your competitor. Selling is not about making one transaction. It is about building a relationship and investing in your customer-base.
Every experienced businessperson understands that helping and giving incentivizes the customer to want to purchase from you. I mean, come on, if you are willing to give your time, energy, and even products, then what you have for sale must really be of value. Right?
Give To Get
If the consultant approached us with a spirit of giving, truly wanting to see us get the best product for our needs, then we would have wanted to buy from them. Because her motivation was focused on what she can get out of the interaction, she set herself up to fail.
No matter what market you are in, you will work against your best interest if your motivation is money. Instead, focus on improving the lives of your customer-base.
I’ve always heard that giving is receiving. I never realized that lesson was so business-savvy.
I recently read this article written by Thomas Edwards, in which he discusses how the “fake it ’til you make it” phrase is pretty much garbage. While I understand some of the sentiments, I think it would be good to talk about where this phrase comes from, and why it works to improve your confidence.
The Edwards starts as follows:
“Wikipedia says the purpose of faking it until you make is “to avoid getting caught in a self-fulfilling prophecy related to one’s fear of not being confident.” On the other hand, Harvard Professor and best-selling author of Presence, Amy Cuddy defines it as, “Fake it till you become it. Do it enough until you actually become it and internalize.”
There are lots of problems with both versions. Being fake is disingenuous, and getting caught implies you were lying. Crippling fear, lacking confidence, and becoming what you fake, all are things you wouldn’t want your employees, investors, your spouse or anyone else to associate with you.”
This is correct that it is better to be genuine and imperfect than fake and mask your humanity. However, the purpose of this phrase, and what Dr. Cuddy is getting at, is that our lack of confidence and fear of failure actually work against our genuine self. It can be shown pretty easily as well. Think of the last time someone asked you a question where the honest answer made you squirm. Did you tell the truth and deal with the repercussions, or did you blunt the truth in order to avoid an argument or embarrassment?
Where does this come from?
The fear of failure, our lack of confidence in ourselves is what causes us to be fake in our professional and personal lives. I would actually argue that this phrase, or what it is trying to achieve, is an attempt to be more authentic. What do I mean by this?
The phrase, “fake it ’til you make it,” is a hyped-up version of the empirically-based therapeutic technique called “Act As-If.”
Act As-If is a technique used in multiple forms of therapy in which a goal has been identified – such as exercising more, or speaking up at work – and there is a disconnect for the client between desire and achievement. The technique is simple, yet powerful. Let’s take the example above of speaking up at work and look at how it works.
Client (Ct): Whenever we are in a meeting and the boss asks for ideas, I freeze.
Executive Coach (EC): What causes you to freeze? Do you have ideas to offer?
Ct: Oh yeah, I have a few ideas. Actually, I have one that I think could really work out.
EC: What do you think gets in your way?
Ct: I just don’t have the confidence. I’m always worried someone is going to shoot it down or find some reason it’s a stupid idea. I wish I was someone who could just…talk.
EC: Okay, this week I want you to act as if you were someone who could just talk.
Ct: I don’t even know where I would begin. How can I act as if, if I don’t know where to start?
EC: Do you know anyone who is good at speaking their mind?
Ct: Well…Christa is really good at saying what’s on his mind. Each time she says something in our meetings, I think to myself how much I would want to be able to do that.
EC: Then act as if you were Christa. In your next meeting, when your boss asks for suggestions, act as if you were Christa and say what’s on your mind.
And that’s it. That the technique. You might say, “Now wait! The coach asked their client to act like someone else! Isn’t that them being fake?!”
Not at all. The technique of Act As-If acknowledges that the tools being used by the individual aren’t effectively helping them meet their needs. The coach simply used a tangible example, given by the client, to make the action more easily conceptualized. We may think we don’t know how to do something, but we may know someone who does. Just because we use their example to better meet our needs does not make us any less genuine.
It’s about becoming equipped for success
Act As-If gives us the chance to connect who we want to be with who we are now. We are always improving and growing as individuals and professionals. If we wish to be better public speakers, then we emulate great speakers to grow in our skill. We aren’t fake for taking tips from more skilled professionals.
Act As-If isn’t just useful for improving upon our abilities, but also for changing habits completely. Take, for example, the common desire to live a healthy, fit life. If we were to Act As-If, we would live as though we were already living a healthy, fit life. This challenges us to question, what do fit people do? how do they eat? how do they take care of themselves? Once we have those answers we simply put those habits into practice.
Fit people exercise once a day? then act as if you are a fit person and exercise daily. healthy people eat more greens? Then act as if you are healthy and eat more greens.
There is nothing fake about this. If an individual who Acted As-If was disingenuous, then anyone attempting to improve their lives would be also.
Personally, I would say that this technique can be invaluable in a professional setting. For those who are coming up on an experience where they need to muster a massive amount of courage, then acting as if they were someone with that courage can unwittingly give them the strength they need to get the job done. After all, they didn’t become someone else and use that person’s courage. That courage was inside of them the whole time.
It would seem to me that the Thomas Edwards has taken an effective tool and associated it with the behavior of manipulative chameleons who shift themselves in order to become more attractive to those around them. Acting As-If achieves just the opposite. Where we feel our behavior does not match our genuine selves, and we continually get in our own way, we Act As-If we have already achieved what we seek.
I agree with Edwards that disingenuous individuals do themselves, and those around them, a disservice by attempting to change themselves for others. However, I would tell those people to Act As-If who they truly are is enough. Because THAT is a genuine truth.
TheA while back I was having a conversation with a manager about how they maintain a healthy office culture. These conversations are always interesting because it is evident when a manager has or has not been considering the specific techniques and philosophies they use to make their office a healthy place for their employees.
Some managers get the ‘deer in the headlights’ look as if to say, “you mean I’m responsible for more than making sure my staff get their jobs done?” Some roll their eyes and talk about how difficult it is for them, blaming office drama. They may also light up; excited to talk about the changes they have made and the notable improvements that have stemmed from those changes.
In any case, there is a conversation to be had about improving office culture.
I knew they were in the best hands.
The manager said something that I had not heard from many other managers. It was subtle, yet profound. I became excited for her staff after hearing her philosophy. I knew they were in the best hands.
This is what she said,
“I love having such amazing employees working for us. But if they feel that they will be more fulfilled at another job, then I don’t just want them to take that job – I encourage them to.”
Finding A Job With Purpose
It may seem at face value that this manager is asking her staff to actively find other jobs. The fear of putting ideas into your staff’s heads about possibly leaving your agency is enough to reject this manager’s philosophy right out of the gate. But she has some amazing wisdom motivating this perspective.
If an employee is not fulfilled and feels pulled away from your agency, do you want that half-hearted employee on your payroll? Their presence could, in fact, keep a better fitting candidate from working for you. Yes, you would have to spend time and money looking for that candidate.
But is saving that time and money worth having an unfulfilled, dispassionate workforce? I don’t think so.
By reminding your staff of their freedom to pursue a fulfilling career, you build the loyalty within your employees saught after by every company.
This manager’s philosophy is not only helpful for filtering out dispassionate staff. This philosophy also empowers employees and shows them that management truly cares about their fulfillment. By reminding your staff of their freedom to pursue a fulfilling career, you build the loyalty within your employees sought after by every company.
This can be a subtle shift in interpersonal functioning within your office but will have a dynamic effect on the office culture and morale. We require a purpose to survive and fulfillment to thrive. It is the management’s responsibility to provide purpose and opportunity for fulfillment to their staff. If the staff can’t find a purpose to their work, then encourage them to search for it elsewhere.
Disillusioned staff will never be effective representatives of a business. Help them find fulfillment elsewhere so that you can replace them with loyal and fulfilled staff.
Businesses struggle to find their place in a field full of competition. Price wars and marketing campaigns attempt to win customers and business, but all too often find the increased sales to be fleeting and fair-weather. In order to avoid losing customers unnecessarily, we recommend you take the time to develop a passionate vision statement for your business.
There are several benefits of having a quality vision statement at the core of a business. From direction for decision-making to change-resistant consumer loyalty, we will list some of the most important benefits a company can see from having a powerful vision statement.
An effective vision statement is the bedrock of any company. Yes, every company worth their salt will have a comprehensive business plan. But, without knowing what you’re trying to accomplish — what impact you aspire to achieve — your business plan would be lacking the essence of why the company exists in the first place.
What are the goals you wish to accomplish through your company? What would it mean if those goals were realized? That is, above and beyond the financial success, what do you envision the success of your company meaning to the world?
This may sound a bit “head in the clouds,” but being able to articulate the spirit of your company will have a lasting business-wide impact. This is simply because the vision statement puts each decision through a quality test. Does this decision exemplify what we are trying to accomplish, or are we just going for a quick fix? Some of the areas of your business that are most affected by this quality test are hiring processes, what products are created and why, and what mergers should be pursued. Here, we will touch on each of these topics to gain a better understanding of what a business can gain by spending the necessary time to develop an effective vision statement.
For the majority of companies, the hiring process is expensive, time-consuming, and oftentimes inaccurate. It’s estimated that the cost of a turnover and hire can range from 30% up to 400% depending on the level of the position. Need to replace a $50,000/year mid-level staff member? Expect to spend at least that much on advertising, time spent interviewing, hiring bonuses, training, and the HR onboarding process.
Sadly, one major reason turnover is as high as it can be in some companies is because of this very issue of not quality checking the hiring decisions. Most notably, making the mistake of hiring skillset over character. automated searches through hiring pools focus on keywords associated with the skills prospective staff already have. But learning a new skill is easier than ever. Online degrees, educational programs like Quora, and CEU opportunities, and even corporate mentorships can easily make up for any lack of skills.
But learning a new skill is easier than ever. Online degrees, educational programs like Udemy and Coursera, and CEU opportunities, and even corporate mentorships can easily make up for any lack of skills. What can’t be taught, however, is the right spirit to mesh well with the team.
When you hire by character, you are able to make the decision based on whether or not the individual was driven by the same motivations as the company itself. Matched purpose is the greatest driver and greatest indicator of longevity in a position. If the staff truly feel that they are working toward something they believe in then quitting an agency becomes connected to a sense that they are quitting on their beliefs. Furthermore, if the articulated vision statement resonates with the staff, then they, in turn, become advocates and coaches to their peers.
The quality test that’s based on a well-articulated vision statement will also help navigate a company through the often treacherous geography of product development. You’re not only deciding what products and business mergers to pursue, you’re deciding how they will be pursued, what they will look like, and how they will function. A perfect example of this is the difference between Microsoft and Apple products.
Microsoft’s vision was to see computers in every home. This means they needed to be affordable and functional for any user. They created an operating system and allowed other companies to create hardware for the OS to function on. This created competition and lowered prices.
Apple’s vision was to see computers as an experience. Sleek, simple, and clean. Something that made a statement. So, they focused on developing a computer product only created by themselves. This way, they would control the quality of the product and make sure that each product spoke to the identity they were striving to achieve.
Using a vision statement to navigate business decisions isn’t just limited to what products are created, but also lends wisdom to potential mergers and products are left on the table.
Several years ago, I worked for a moderate-sized mental health agency. At the time of my hire, they were in the middle of a very large merger with another agency. This potential merger would have taken two moderately-large agencies and combined them into one power-house that would command a large amount of business in the metro area which they served.
In the final weeks of talks, our leadership staff decided to pull out of the merger due to differing visions. While the potential for increased business was enticing, our leadership recognized that if the two boards could not agree on the vision of their shared future, then each decision going forward would be met with unnecessary arguments, undermining, and even dissension. All of which would cost time, money, and the hard-earned reputation my agency had built.
The agency had to leave a lot of potential money on the table when they walked away from the merger, but they realized that other opportunities would come that would not risk reputation or integrity. Without a powerful vision statement — one owned by each member of the leadership — this awareness of risks would not have been possible. The potential for increased profits would have been the only driving force behind the decisions made.
The choices made by the leadership at that mental health agency made a greater impact than what was seen on the surface. The decision showed the industry in their area how important their integrity was, what their vision statement actually meant to the leadership, but most importantly it inspired the staff at the agency. This decision acted as a rallying cry to us as employees, announcing that what we do is more important than the profits we make. Who we are as an agency is more important than a pay-out. We, the employees, were more important than any share of the industry.
This decision inspired staff. We were proud of what we did and who were working for.
Lastly, a Vision Statement provides customers with a visceral connection to the efforts and spirit of the company.
Why does this matter? Because it provides what Warren Buffett refers to as a Moat (an aspect of the business which makes them resistant to competition) within their field. Creating the best product or charging the lowest price are common methods of commanding sales, but those Moats are more fragile than what a powerful Vision Statement can provide. When a business has a Moat based on their vision, it means that their customers feel compelled to purchase from them. No matter the cost or quality difference, customers will give their loyalty to the purpose of the company.
A company can compete with other businesses on several levels. The most important and long-lasting level is customer loyalty.
It goes without saying that we all have unique strengths and weaknesses. Depending on the position we hold at our company, our strengths are being utilized or neglected. Similarly, there are those who are made to be managers and those who would better serve being managed. Every role is invaluable, but without a manager who knows how to lead and inspire, their staff will become dispassionate and lose motivation. For those in supervisory roles, the following 6 traits have been repeatedly found in managers who foster creativity and unending productivity within their staff.
1. Owning up to mistakes
Many managers fall into the trap of needing to seem infallible. The fear of losing authority or the respect of their staff causes the overprotective behavior of denying or explaining away a failure all too common. They might find themselves concerned that if they admit to one mistake, they may not be seen as qualified to lead. On the contrary, a manager who is open about their faults displays authenticity and acts as the example of trust for his/her staff. Instead of avoiding acknowledging your mistake, the next time you run into an issue display your problem-solving skills as a lesson for everyone else.
2. Embracing that there is always more to learn
The unique perspectives of your staff will be an unending resource of knowledge. You will always be able to improve as a supervisor. Be willing to learn and hone your skills. Your staff brings vibrant experiences and education, and many are just waiting to be realized by upper management. Be humble enough to realize that you do not have all of the answers, and you never will. Remind yourself that innovation comes from the ground up. As Alfred Adler said, “everything can also be different.”
3. Treating staff as more important than any other asset; especially the customer
A common mistake that entire companies make is to place the customers or the shareholders higher than the employees. “The customer is always right” is a perfect example of this fallacy. Following this method of thinking, every employee’s abilities, talents, and personality is restricted. Inspiration is limited and innovation staggers because the fear of failing in such an environment means losing their job. Managers who inspire their staff create an environment where the employee is the most important asset to the company. Their ideas and unique perspectives are what bring vital change. If you want your customers to feel cared for, make your employees feel cared for. A fulfilled employee will emanate authentic passion to help your customers because they feel cared for themselves.
4. Acknowledging and fostering talent
As stated earlier, every employee is a unique, vibrant, and an invaluable source of ideas and knowledge in their skill set. Each individual does their job a little bit differently. Focusing on different aspects of a job and having methods of accomplishment as unique as their personalities, it is a sign of a fantastic supervisor that each strength is honored and the staff’s job be molded to empower those individualized strengths. Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton write in their book Now, Discover Your Strengths, that positions should not be characterized as pass-through roles, thus promoting people out of their talents. Be willing to customize positions to the strengths of each staff. Honor each position and those who function remarkably in those roles.
5. Being a constant reminder of purpose fulfilled
Every company has a purpose. Every successful and high-functioning company knows their purpose and makes decisions fueled by that purpose. Remarkable managers are intimately connected to that purpose and act as a living reminder of why their staff comes to work in the first place. As Viktor Frankl stated often, human beings thrive when their purpose is known. Without purpose, action is meaningless. However, if purpose is known, an individual can endure the most extreme of hardships and thrive. Similarly, staff who are struggling to maintain motivation are best supported by a manager who reminds their staff of the purpose behind their work. This manager would empower and encourage their staff by connecting their employees to a larger purpose than themselves.
6. Using your status for the greater good
Outstanding managers are true leaders. Leaders are those who forge the path for those who follow. They use their tools to create an environment that is safe and nurturing for those in their care. Managers who truly lead know that their authority and position call for them to protect rather than control. Like a shepherd, an invaluable manager fosters an environment of freedom and empowerment that allows the staff to work out of their strengths and personalities. If there are rules in place that diminish the productivity and talents of their staff, it is up to the manager to change those rules. What the manager creates will set forth a self-fulfilling prophecy, for the good of the company or to the detriment of growth and productivity. It is their responsibility to use their status to foster a healthy work environment.
If you wish to learn more about how to lead with effectiveness and through inspiration, please follow the links below to some fantastic sources of insight.