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Raving or Raging Fans? The First Lesson!

Syrus Lenco, CEO at a large company said he was having morale problems in the ranks. He asked me to assess the corporate culture and deliver a report.

At the end of a few weeks I came to him with the results. “You don’t have a morale issue, Syrus. You have a leadership issue.”

“What do you mean,”” Syrus was perturbed. “I’m pleasant. I get along with my staff. We work well together.”

“At least on the surface,” I answered. “Have you ever noticed that your staff usually agrees with you and goes along with what you say?”

“Why wouldn’t they?” he shrugged.”I told you we work well together.”

“It does appear that way, doesn’t it,” I insisted gently.

“I don’t get it,” Syrus leaned forward on his desk. “What are you saying?”

“You have an approval oriented culture, Syrus,” I answered.

“What’s that mean?”

“Your people avoid conflict so it appears that most of the relationships in your organization are pleasant. Everyone gets along… at least superficially.” I was getting a bit bolder now. “People keep their mouths shut when they have a differing opinion, but inside they’re quietly raging.”

“I always tell my team members to speak up,” he said. “I tell them their ideas and opinions count.” He was reflective. ‘They just don’t say very much to say so they go along with what I want.”

“That’s the point.” I could see he was beginning to get it.

“I thought it was because they had nothing to say.” He was thoughtful now.

“They have a lot to say, Syrus, but at some level they are seeking security in their relationship with you and probably with each other. As a result constructive differing and the free expression of ideas has been dampened.”

“What am I going to do?” He fell back in his chair.

“Let’s just take this a step at a time,” I offered. “Write this down,” I said.

LESSON #1: PEOPLE ARE NEVER MOTIVATED BY BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO.      PEOPLE ONLY GET MOTIVATED WHEN THEY HAVE AN INSIGHT, AN AHA EXPERIENCE!

Syrus picked up a pen began furiously writing on a notepad. “You see,” I continued, “Insight is accompanied by a chemical signature that moves people to action.”

NotesSyrus finished writing and put his pen down as the alarm on his phone went off. Time out he signaled.  “I have a meeting,” he said. “Besides, this is a lot to digest. Can we meet in a few days to continue with our conversation.”

“That’s great,” I agreed. “But I’d like you to look at life through the lens of the following statement and share your insights with me at our next meeting.”PEOPLE ARE MOVED TO ACTION BY INSIGHT,” I said, as I shook his hand. “I’ll make an appointment with your secretary.” And I left for the day knowing that Syrus and I were at the beginning of a great adventure.

To Be Continued…

Copyright: D. Trinidad Hunt 2009

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