People rarely do things for your reasons. They are motivated by their own hopes, aims, and aspirations. A leader’s goal is not to sell her vision to the team, expecting them to buy into something external to them. Rather, the responsibility of the leader is to show how her vision connects with the needs and desires inside of each teammate. In this way, the vision is not so much sold as shared.
Instead of putting others in their place, we need to put ourselves in their place, exchanging our perspective for theirs. How does this happen? By asking good questions. However, before we can know what to ask, we have to understand some basic principles about how people behave.
Time-Honored People Principles
People consider themselves before others.
People certainly are capable of acting altruistically on behalf of others, but the default driver of human behavior is self-interest.
People follow emotions more than logic.
People value their opinions more than those of others.
If we’re honest, we often hold onto an idea, not because it’s brilliant, but simply because it’s ours.
People see things based on who they are.
We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. The lens through which people view life is shaped by their past experiences, present mood, and prevailing attitude.
People will consider changing their perspective only when they feel understood.
When denied voice or input into the process of change, people will be far more resistant to transition.
Questions Leaders Should Ask About the People They Lead
In light of these fundamental truths about human nature, a leader cannot expect each person on the team to be motivated by an identical set of concerns. So, instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach to persuading others to change, a wise leader customizes communication by paying attention to the uniqueness of each person.
- What is their passion? This determines what they will do.
- What is their giftedness? This determines what they can do.
- What is their temperament? This determines their perspective and patterns of behavior.
- What are their values? This determines their convictions and priorities.
- What is their position? This determines their territory and thinking.
- What is our relationship? This determines their willingness to change.
Only after a leader has asked these questions, and has carefully considered their answers, is she able to lead people successfully – differently, but successfully.