Becoming A Leader People Want To Follow

Fish eat when they’re hungry, not when you drop the line.

If you’re a salesperson trying to get someone to buy something, then you need to know one of the great myths floating around. The myth is that people buy what they need. The truth is … people buy what they WANT.

In a similar sense, you may be a leader trying to get her coworkers to change. Or you may be a parent trying to get your kid to cooperate. Then you need to be aware of another truth. According to Dr. Richard Curwin, “People only change when they WANT to.” And that being the case, your challenge is to pump up their “WANT-TO” factor.

It’s like the little prospector who walked into a saloon, wearing clean new shoes. A big Texan said to his friend standing at the bar, “Watch me make this dude dance.” He walked over to the prospector and said, “You’re a foreigner, aren’t you? From the East?”

“You might say that,” the little prospector answered. “I’m from Boston, and I’m here prospecting for gold.”

“Now tell me something. Can you dance?”

“No sir. I never did learn to dance.”

“Well, I’m going to teach you. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can learn.”

With that, the Texan took out his gun and started shooting at the prospector’s feet. Hopping, skipping, jumping, by the time the little prospector made it to the door he was shaking like a leaf.

About an hour later the Texan left the saloon. As soon as he stepped outside the door, he heard a click. He looked around and there, four feet from his head, was the biggest shotgun he had ever seen in the hands of the little prospector.

The prospector said, “Mr. Texan, have you ever kissed a mule?”

“No,” said the quick-thinking Texan, “but I’ve always wanted to.”

Obviously, the prospector knew how to pump up the Texan’s WANT-TO cooperation factor. So what can you do to increase a person’s “want-to” factor? Here are three things you can do.

=> 1. Show genuine interest in the other person.

If you don’t show a truly caring interest in the other person, you can’t expect him to be interested in what you want him to do. But if you show a real interest, you’re at least opening the door to change.

Barbara Johnson made that clear in her book, “The Joy Journal.” She writes, “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.”

And years ago, Dale Carnegie, the author of the forever best-seller, “How To Win Friends And Influence People,” made a similar case for showing interest. He said you can make more friends in two weeks … by showing interest in others … than you can in two years … trying to get others interested in you.

A simple technique you can use is to ask more “Brave Questions.” Ask the other person such things as, “What’s most important to you when it comes to … your job … your family … your goals … your future … your hobbies … or whatever.” Just be sure your questions show a genuine interest — and not some feeble attempt to manipulate the other person.

Kirk Billiter, in the Creative Services Department of State Farm, wrote: “Alan, shortly after hearing you speak in Bloomington, I purchased your book, ‘Brave Questions.’ Actually, I had read so many good things about the book in your newsletter that I purchased two … one for me and one for my college-age daughter.”

“Last week my wife and I were to meet up with my parents and my daughter for a short vacation. I took along the ‘Brave Questions book in hopes of using it for a conversation starter during our evening meals together. Since my daughter and her boyfriend were to arrive several days after my parents, I thought I would test out the questions on my parents first. My parents (now in their 70’s) had never openly shared their past with me, but I also know that I was never one to ask many questions. Well, now I had a tool to help me do that.”

“The first night using your book as a guide, I was amazed how eager my parents were to answer the Brave Questions in such detail and excitement. Although I had heard a few of the stories before, I found out so much more about their lives by using your questions. The second night we got through fewer questions, but the depth of the answers provided much more open dialogue. Several of my father’s stories spilled over into our evening coffee and dessert on the screened-in porch.”

“On the third day my daughter and her boyfriend arrived at the cabin. We were all excited to see her and spend time with her. As she was unpacking, she pulled out her copy of ‘Brave Questions’ and said, “I hoped we might use them this week during our evening meals.”

Her grandfather smiled at her and said, “You’re too late honey, we have already covered all the real juicy questions the last two nights!”

“Our family continued to use your ‘Brave Questions’ book during our entire week-long stay. Much like your testimony of using these questions, we also found that our family changed as a result. We now have a much deeper respect for one another as a result of all of us answering these ‘Brave Questions’.”

“Thank you so much for sharing these brave questions with us.”

Kirk learned how to show more interest in his family members, and they all changed for the better as a result. Gabriel Smithson, from Pacific Detroit Diesel-Allison Company, found the same thing to be true. She wrote, “Dr. Zimmerman, I was first introduced to you at the NACM Credit Congress years ago. I was truly amazed, and the things I learned in your seminar have helped me tremendously ever since. I was probably one of the first customers to buy your book on ‘Brave Questions.’ I use this book in both my personal and business life. I am a ferocious reader, and this is truly a great book … one that everybody should have a copy of.”

And then a second way to increase someone’s WANT-TO factor is to…

=> 2. Be likeable.

Simply put, people tend to say “yes” more often to people they like. And the more the other person likes you, the more she will “want to” change for you.

Direct sales organizations have tapped into this principle with great success. Just think about the selling power in home parties for such great organizations as Mary Kay or Tastefully Simple. The attendees aren’t being sold a product by some anonymous salesperson; they’re buying a product from a friend they know, like, and trust.

Of course, I could do a whole seminar on how to increase your sales effectiveness by being more likeable, but as a bare minimum, be kind. Smile. Listen. As Samuel Johnson wrote in the 1700’s, “Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.”

And keep your word. It’s hard to like people who say one thing and do another. Follow Owen Feltman’s advice. He reminds us that “Promises may get friends, but it is performance that keeps them.”

Finally, for today’s Tip…

=> 3. Increase your trust factor.

I just said that people buy from people they like. That’s true. But it’s a half-truth. The other half has to be there as well … and that is … people buy from people they trust.

The first question every person on a team asks is, “Do I trust my boss and the other members of management?” If the answer is “no,” they look for someone else to follow … someone they can trust.

And trust continues to be a big issue. Back in December of 1995, DDI reported that 56% of employees around the world in service and manufacturing companies viewed lack of trust as a major problem.

If you want people to “want to” change, then they’ve got to trust you and your integrity. In the “Listen Up” book, the authors state, “Today’s most sought-after job perk is integrity. That’s right! Corporate integrity is at the top of employee ‘wish lists’ as they look for first or new jobs.”

So how do you build more trust with people? Help them see you as an authority. All the research says that people will go to great lengths to satisfy the request of a perceived authority.

Now you can’t get obnoxious about this, but there are several things you can do to raise your status as an authority. You can use legitimate titles to increase the other person’s respect for what you say and what you are requesting. You can refer to what other colleagues and customers have to say about your work. Or you could even make a conscious effort to dress in clothing styles and colors typically associated with authority … like black, navy, or white.

Unfortunately, the use of authority can be so powerful that people may not challenge it … even when it should be challenged. In their book, “Medication Errors: Causes and Prevention,” Cohen and Davis cited a Harvard University study that found 10% of all cardiac arrests in hospitals are due to medication errors. And, they said, the problem is largely caused by the reluctance of healthcare workers to challenge the boss or doctor.

They even cited the case of the “rectal earache.” A physician had ordered ear drops for an infection in a patient’s right ear. Instead of saying “right ear,” he abbreviated his orders to read, “Place in R ear.” Even though the treatment made no sense, the duty nurse promptly put the prescribed number of drops into the patient’s bottom.

Action:  Think of three people you’d like to influence. Think of three ways you can show more genuine interest in each one of them. Then do it.