Whether you are leading a team to accomplish a huge business or charitable goal, attempting to move a person to a specific action or selling your product or service to a skeptical prospect, I believe the following has proven to be true, and many times over:
Leadership is never about the leader; influence is never about the influencer, and selling is never about the salesperson. When approached correctly it is always about: the follower, the influence-ee and the prospect.
In other words, it isn’t about you; it’s about them.
Most of the great leaders, top influencers and highly-profitable salespeople seem to have an intuitive (though, often learned) understanding that to the degree you find ways to put the other person’s needs and interests first, that’s the degree to which people will commit to you and to your ideas.
Please don’t confuse putting other person’s needs first with being a doormat, a matyr or with being self-sacrificial in any way. If by putting others first you hurt yourself, that indicates your are heading in the wrong direction.
Done properly, not only should the other person’s interests not conflict with yours, they should align with yours. But first, you must focus on theirs.
That is why these top leaders, influencers and salespeople constantly question themselves: “How does what I’m asking this person to do align with their goals? How does it tie into their wants, their needs, their desires? How does what I want this other person to do align with their values?”
When asking yourself these questions intelligently and authentically — not to manipulate but to build — you’ve gone a long way toward earning their commitment. And having their commitment is much better than having their compliance…any day of the week.
I love what my great friend, leadership authority Dondi Scumaci says: “Compliance will never take you where commitment can go.”
Long ago, in his classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie taught us that people do things for their reasons, not for our reasons.
Understanding and even embracing this immutable human quality is the first step to wisdom in terms of positive people skills. And, it will go a long way towards helping you work effectively with others in a way that everyone benefits and feels great about both the process and the results.
Action step: Begin to be consciously aware. With everything you think, say and do as it involves another, ask yourself if your focus is on yourself and your agenda, or on that person and their agenda. It takes some practice but you’ll amaze yourself with your rapid improvement and much-improved effectiveness.