[This post is part of a series on “Mental models and beliefs: an exercise to identify yours.” If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Want to know a great way to lead people so they appreciate that you led them?
Today’s model and strategy show how. Often they’ll thank you and look forward to being led again by you later.
Note that it works when you and they both care about the goal. It may not work on projects that they have no internal motivation to work on.
The first few times you do it, it may seem mechanical, but if you pay attention, you’ll understand how it helps you connect on emotions to create meaning, value, importance, and purpose (MVIP) in someone else’s life. The first few times will be like a musician playing scales — it’s not yet music, but you need to do it to reach where you do play music. After your first few times going step by step, the next few times you’ll deliberately and purposefully inspire them.
A model and strategy for leading people so they appreciate and thank you for being led
Today’s model is that
most people, even if they know what they want done, don’t want or know how to organize people to do them. With motivation to contribute they will, and they’ll thank you for motivating them to contribute.
A strategy emerges from that model, mainly to evoke the emotions that will motivate their participation. If they aren’t contributing already, that won’t always be easy. Today’s strategy gives a high level structure for making it happen.
The strategy: make the project about their MVIP
Though I’ll describe the strategy in basic steps, recognize the overall pattern: You will make achieving the project about their emotions. You will create MVIP for them. People crave MVIP in their lives, though most don’t know how to create it. When you create it for them, they will appreciate it, potentially incredibly deeply, and want you to create more for them, meaning they will want you to lead more.
If you lose sight of the MVIP you created and motivating them, they’ll value working for you less. These steps create MVIP in your teammates.
Here is the strategy.
- Know what you want to achieve.
- Know that they want to achieve the same thing as you and the team, even if they never expressed it, which may require some faith.
- Ask them what about the goal appeals to them. Their answer should have some emotion to it. This step is like your foot in the door to their contribution.
- Over several personal conversations, have them expand on how that appeals to them. These conversations will be about meaningful emotions to them. The more you can get them to expand on these emotions, the more they’ll feel and act on them.
- From now on, when you talk about achieving those things, always refer to them in terms of what they get out of it.
- You have to contribute to them achieving their goal. The more they see you contributing, the more they will feel compelled to contribute.
The result after step 5 is that they will always see you as helping them, even though you are leading the interaction. You now have someone helping you, but what you get out of it is a side effect. For them, they’re doing something they’ve long wanted to do for their reasons. They will appreciate that you motivated them to achieve their goal.
By the way, there’s nothing sneaky or manipulative about this strategy. You can tell people what you’re doing, it will work just as well, and you’ll be open about it.
Here is how this pattern might play out.
- Say you want to stop a developer from turning a public park in your community into a shopping mall.
- Know that the people you want to lead genuinely want the park to remain. (Note not everyone will. Some may benefit more from the mall. You may not want to work with them.)
- Ask people who also oppose the mall why they do. Their reasons will generally differ from yours (if you assume they have the same reasons, you may alienate them). Maybe they want control of their community, maybe they want a place for their children to play, maybe they don’t want more traffic.
- Now find out their history, their goals, and the relevant reasons they want to share. Ask with empathy and compassion. If you do nothing past this stage and you do it respectfully, they’ll at least feel you care and sense you want to understand and help.
- Say they opposed the mall for environmental reasons. From now on, when you talk to that person about the mall, talk about the pollution it would cause and how little a park would contribute, if anything. Though you’re getting help achieving your goal, whatever your reason, that’s not why they’re doing it, so talking about your reason won’t help.
- Now you contribute to stopping the mall. It could be by organizing or whatever. You may be contributing for your reasons, but they’ll contribute for theirs.
The goal by step 5 is that they see you as someone who understands and supports their values. They won’t see you as a just park person but as a person who helps them achieve their values. They wouldn’t know what to do without you.
Your relationship as a leader with them will be about their emotions. You may get elected, promoted, or otherwise directly benefit, but you don’t communicate on that. You communicate on their MVIP.
Here’s another example
- Say you like a shoulder massage at the end of the day and want your significant other (SO) to give you a massage regularly.
- Know in your heart your SO wants you to feel the happiness and relaxation of a massage, or however the massage makes you feel, even if you fight sometimes.
- Get your SO to state why they like giving massages or making you feel happy and relaxed. The first time they say it doesn’t have to be that strong a statement. But get their reasons. Maybe they like to make you feel good, but they may have different reasons. Say they say they like that it makes them feel closer to you.
- Now spend some time over several conversations for them to expand on what they get out of it. Do not focus on the massage. Focus on them, their feelings, their emotions, and their MVIP. If you don’t continue to the next stop, they will appreciate the attention you’re giving them. Why do they like feeling close? Have they always been close with others or have they always wanted more? How close do they want to be? etc (Even if you never go past this stage, your SO will appreciate that you gave time and attention to something that mattered to them — closeness. They’ll feel appreciated and cared for.)
- From now on, when you would talk about massages, talk about closeness. When you see another couple being close, comment on their closeness. When receiving a massage comment on how the touch and communication makes you feel close, even if you’re appreciating it for the relaxation.
- Now, since they value closeness, you have to contribute to something in their life that makes you closer. It could be massaging them back, but not necessarily. Step 4 would have revealed something — maybe it will be more about talking openly or helping them with something unrelated. The more you contribute to this thing of value to them, the more they will contribute to theirs (massaging you). You will get a lot closer. You’ll also get a lot of massages. They will increasingly appreciate you for creating closeness through massage.
Note that in this example the emotions will be more intimate than in the first, but you will have inspired the person just the same. If you do it well, then massages and closeness will become a major part of your relationship. You can make it become one of “your things,” the type of thing other people recognize you for — like you’re the couple that gives each other shoulder massages so much and it makes them so close.
When I use this belief
I use this belief and strategy when I want to create a long-term relationship with those I want to lead because I know we will all contribute deeply to what we work on together and we will both appreciate the other all the more.
I can also use this belief when I need to lead by something other than authority.
What this belief replaces
This belief replaces feeling you have to convince or cajole someone to lead them with the understanding of how to evoke their motivations to do what they want to do.
Where this belief leads
This belief leads to you taking on leadership roles and people wanting to follow your lead. You will create MVIP in people’s lives, contribute to their lives, and inspire them.
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