How the best leaders win the cooperation of others (part 1)

Ever since the beginning of time, everyone has asked the same question. How do I get others to do what I want them to do?

All teachers, spouses, parents, team leaders, supervisors, and yes even you leaders ask that same question. What does it take to get the full and willing cooperation of others?

I can tell you from experience most people don’t know the answer. That’s why I often ask the people in my training sessions this simple question. How many of you like to eat strawberries? Most of the hands go up. Yes, they do. They love them.

Then I ask them if they like to go fishing. Quite a few hands go up.

“Well,” I ask, “How many of you use strawberries to catch fish?” No one.

“So what do you use?” They all say, “Worms.”

I ask them, “Do you like to eat worms?” Of course, they all shout, “No!”

Now I think that’s odd, and I tell them so. They love to eat strawberries but they hate worms. And yet they use worms to catch fish. So I ask them, “Why? Why do you use worms?” They say, “Because the fish like worms.”

In fact, when they go fishing, they bring all kinds of things the fish might like. They bring worms, squid, leeches, and minnows, because if one bait doesn’t work, they’ll try another.

The same principle applies to all of your relationships on and off the job. Yet nine times out of ten, when we fish for communication with others, when we try to lead others in such a way that they give their full and willing cooperation, we use the style of communication we like. We don’t even think about what the other person would like. And then we wonder why our leadership isn’t as effective as it could be.

However, I’ve got some really good news for you. You can win the cooperation of others in your department, or even your home, if you follow a three-step process.

  1. You must know what they need.
  2. You must give them what they need.
  3. You must ask for what you need.

Let me give you a few tips that address each of these points. We’ll have to save an in-depth exploration and skill acquisition for a longer training session. Indeed, you may want to join me in my two-day virtual Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience on October 3-4. 2024.

Tom Hendricks, a Field Vice President at American Express, said,

“Your Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience opened my eyes. I learned what makes me tick and what makes those I live and work with tick. Now it’s a cinch to get cooperation and teamwork from others.”

Indeed if you register now, you save 50% with our Super Early-Early-Bird Special.

Back to the three-step process of getting people to do what you want them to do … with a lot less hassle … in a lot less time.

As I said above, there are three steps that will help you do that. In today’s Tuesday Tip, we’ll talk about the first step.*

►1.You Must Know What Your People Need

This should be pretty obvious.

On the one hand you already know you can catch a lot more fish with worms than strawberries. But on the other hand, you can easily overlook the obvious.

Most leaders focus on what they themselves need. They need their coworkers to be more positive. They need their employees to accept the changes more readily. Or they need their customers to be more loyal — and that’s all they think about.

They focus on what they want and need. They may not even stop to consider what their people need. At best, they figure they already know what their people need — without checking it out.

That’s what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce discovered. They asked 5,000 managers to rank ten items in the order of their importance to their employees. Number one was assigned to the most important item while ten was given to the least important. The managers thought “full appreciation of work done,” “feeling in on things,” and “help with problems” were relatively unimportant, giving them the bottom three rankings of eight, nine, and ten.

Amazingly, when their 50,000 employees were asked to rank the same ten items, quite a different picture emerged. The employees said those same three items would be their top three choices. That’s what they wanted and needed. And indeed, if their bosses were to get their full cooperation, they’d better know that.

As a leader, to win the cooperation of others, you’ve got to know what your people need. As Lord Chesterfield said, “If you will please people, you must please them in their own way.”

Frank Bettger learned that years ago. As a professional baseball player who had to leave the game because of an injury, he began to sell life insurance. It didn’t go well. In fact, at age 29 he declared himself a miserable, debt-ridden failure.

Then as improbable as it sounds, he became so successful as a salesman that he was able to retire at age 41. He attributed his miraculous turnaround to an insight given to him by one of America’s top sales professionals, J. Elliot Hall.

Hall told him how he had also failed and was about to give up his selling career when he discovered the reason he was failing. He was spending too much time talking about the wonderful features and benefits of his product. And he was spending too little time asking prospective customers what they needed.

Once he discovered that, Hall said he refocused his communication. From then on, his communication was aimed at finding out what other people needed.

The idea revolutionized Bettger’s career as well. Before that, he just thought of selling (or leading) as a way of making a living — for himself. But now, Frank was inspired. He saw himself as making a difference in the world. He was figuring out what people needed, and, if possible, he was helping them get it.

With that in mind, ask yourself these questions:

  • How much time and attention do you spend on finding out what your people need?
  • What are you doing to figure out what your people need?
  • What else do you need to do?
  • And when will you start?