By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to enhance your persuasive skills. Reading time: 2:44.
Lovers know it. Would-be leaders forget it. And too many wanna-bees ignore it.
It is foreplay of the business kind.
It is the kind of leadership behavior that establishes a mood, ignites a dynamic and mutually satisfies any negotiation: from gaining buy-in for a merger to reprimanding a staffer to pitching a new account to buying fruits and vegetables.
Yes. Even buying fruits and vegetables.
Walk into any grocery store and you’ll immediately get a leadership lesson up front and center.
The produce section—always positioned close to the entrance- is bathed in lights glistening in an array of orange, green and red colors. Spot lights beam everywhere like a Broadway production, shining on the oranges and grapefruits, cucumbers and tomatoes so intently you almost expect them to break out into a song and dance.
Luring You In
The lights lure you in closer and closer. Almost seductively. You feel the smooth skin of a cucumber. You smell the enticing aroma of a banana. You feel the round, breast-like shape of an orange. The lights draw you in closer and closer and closer — until you can’t resist any longer. Your hands seemed to be automatically squeezing. Your mouth involuntarily sucking. Your hands automatically caressing the fruits and vegetables. Then you find yourself giving those fruits and vegetables a ride in your grocery cart and finally home in your vehicle.
But wait. That buy-fruits-first behavior really makes no sense.
Easing the Guilt Trip
Buying fruits and vegetables first in the grocery means your tomatoes and bananas are more likely to get bruised if not crushed beneath the other products you will subsequently toss in your cart. Yet fruits and vegetables are always sold up front in a grocery store any way.
Sure, practically speaking FIRST buying fruits and vegetables makes no sense.
But wait. Leaders know that buying fruits and vegetables –FIRST up front and center —makes a lot of sense. And a great deal of cents!
After all, you are more likely to feel a whole lot better about filling your grocery cart with cookies, potato chips, pop and other junk AFTER you’ve purchased something healthy like fruits and vegetables.
Indeed, behavioral research in grocery store purchasing shows that you are more likely to buy more fattening (read profitable) products if you preemptively assuage your guilt feelings by first caressing, carting and cashing in on fruits and vegetables. You may hate broccoli but you’ll endure entertaining the Jolly Green Giant first to help you later indulge in a promiscuous relationship with Sara Lee.
Set the mood first; then make your move. That’s a key leadership axiom whether you are trying to lead customers in a grocery store or staff on your team. The principle is the same: build self-esteem first then interact with others based first on THEIR interests.
You lead — you get what you want–by letting others get what they need as motivational speaker Zig Ziglar popularized. And that primary need is self-esteem, according to the 35-year research of Development Dimensions International (DDI).
Their list of 5 Interaction Essentials— the “core behaviors that make leaders and associates effective” — begins with “maintain or enhance self-esteem” followed by (2) listen and respond with empathy; (3) ask for help, encourage involvement; (4) share your thoughts and feelings, and (5) provide support.
So next time you have to reprimand a staffer, give him or her a proverbial orange to chew on. Build their self-esteem. Let them feel good about doing something good for themselves BEFORE you begin addressing their shortcomings.
And leave them with a good taste in their mouth. Leaders always feed their troops something fruitful. Sometimes even under the glare of a spotlight.
Set the mood then make your move to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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