By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help you deal more effectively with people. Reading time: 4:34
The rancher carefully displayed a lizard for the general public at a zoo. A woman in the crowd backed away. “I don’t like reptiles,” she demurred.
“It’s not a reptile. It’s a lizard,” the rancher said. The woman winced at the implied distinction.
The rancher lifted his lizard high for all to see. And then in a soft, comforting voice that seemed to caress the on-lookers, he said: “His name is Sam. “Lizards aren’t so bad when you get to know their names ? He looked at the same woman in the audience and said: Do you want to pet Sam now? She smiled.
The rancher and Sam the Lizard demonstrated how getting to know someone more personally can break down the barriers of diversity and shine a more inviting light that seeks to leverage differences for mutual growth. That’s what leaders do. They build relationships.
No wonder leadership is R-rated —R for Relationships.
Leaders realize that relationships can begin only after you first let go of all your personal baggage, let go so that your hands are free to lift others up. Let go so that you can can listen and learn for more than the name of another; so that you can listen more significantly to where the other is coming more than merely where they are from. Then they find common grounder together.
With common ground well forged those new and evolving relationships can turn suspects into prospects; prospects into customers; customers into clients; clients into advocates and advocate into confidants.
See previous post on Teamwork: Building Intimate Relationships.
Rolodex is More Valuable
Than a Rolex
No wonder Relationship Building is such a valuable skill. Peter Drucker, the management guru, said Relationship Building is the essence of all business and the key to success in the stock market. Max De Pree, the former chairman of a Fortune 500 company and an author of books on leadership, says Relationship Building is the key to successful change management.
And John D. Rockefeller, the billionaire business leader, said he would pay more for a Relationship Builder –someone who could deal effectively with people of all stripes–than anything else.
In fact, Andrew Carnegie paid Charles Schwab almost 15 times his salary in bonus to serve as president of his company, U.S. Steel. Carnegie explained that he paid his company president a salary for what he did and his whopping bonus for what he got others to do –for his Relationship Building skills.
The value of Relationship Building (that would pay $1.5 million in bonus for every $100,000 in salary in the Schwab scenario at U.S. Steel) is well-grounded in research:
A Stanford Research Institute study found that 89 percent of effective management is dealing effectively with people.
The Bureau of Vocational Guidance at Harvard University found that 80 percent of all job failures are due to poor relationships between employees and supervisors and not problems with job responsibilities.
A Carnegie Institute of Technology study found that poor social skills contributed in 95 percent of those who were let go from their jobs after 10 years or more seniority. And a study of executive recruiters noted that 7 out of 10 people lost their jobs because of personality conflicts not because of lack of skills.
Focus on the so-called soft skills–as a Relationship Builder– in developing your leadership capability. “Good management is more a set of principles guiding human relationships and less a system of controls over processes,” observed author Donald Blohowiak in his book Mavericks.
That’s why Clifford Stoll, a noted physicist says psychology is more critical a skill to a leader than technology. In his book Silicon Snake Oil, Stoll observes:
“The ability to work with people,
the ability to get along with someone,
the ability to inspire,
that is an essential skill to life in the 21st century,
a skill that you cannot download from any web page,
but the longer you stay on line,
the less capable you are in dealing in that domain.”
No wonder the most effective leaders realize that a handshake connects better than any modem and a Rolodex is more valuable than any Rolex to the most effective leaders.
Especially when you’re trying to develop a relationship over time. With a lizard. Named Sam.
Hone your relationship building skills
to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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