The 15-inch blade flew perilously close to my left ear, and the Chef's knife thumped into the door behind me. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that my days in his pastry kitchen were over. I couldn't possibly repeat the actual words, but if you think that Gordon Ramsey cusses, I can assure you that even he has a comparatively mild turn of phrase.
I still am. My croissants could be used to break rocks in a quarry. My shortcrust could substitute for dumbell weights. It's simple biology. My hands are too warm. Heck, I didn't even want to be a pastry chef, but I had to master every part of cooking, and I wanted to learn from this Chef. I had huge respect for his talent and would take almost anything for the chance to learn. But he wasn't very likeable. He was a conqueror style and a competent jerk.
In the last Leadership AdvantEdge podcast, I asked what your influencing style was – and if you missed that, you really ought to pop back and listen and do the influencing style inventory. This will identify your dominant influencing style and your least dominant style. Conqueror style influencers can be seen as aggressive, power hungry and controlling. It's not easy working for a conqueror, and their positive influence can be eradicated by the fear they can induce.
So what do you do, if your style isn't working well with some, or even all of the people you need to influence? You need to leverage your style and gain agility. But first and foremost, you want to make it as easy as possible for others to trust you and respect you. In this episode, I shall share how you can leverage your style and more easily influence others and motivate them to do things that matter.
Where are you in each of the key relationships you have where you need to influence someone?
On the vertical scale is how much you trust me and the horizontal represents how much you respect my competence. Someone with low trust and little respect for me would consider me to be a foolish jerk. And you're not likely to be easily swayed by someone you think is a foolish jerk. So, let's say that you still don't respect my competence, but you do trust me. I have proven myself to be trustworthy to you. Something of a loveable eejit. You would find it easier to accept my influence if you trusted me, even though you have little regard for my competence.
Heck perhaps you don't even like me. My Chef was here, I had huge respect for his talent but didn't trust him to care for me, certainly not after that knife incident. If that were me, I'd be a jerk, a competent one, but still a jerk. Then there's the situation where you respect my talents and find me utterly trustworthy. That would make me a loveable star. Someone who could readily and easily influence you.
And what matters here is not how genuinely trustworthy you are, or even how competent you truly are. It is how you are perceived to be. The question is: Do they trust you and do they respect you? The more they both trust and respect you, the easier it is to influence them.
It's important to remember that both of these are perceptions. It's no use saying “well they should respect me.”. Maybe they should, but if they don't that's not actually a failure of your competence, it's a judgement of it. And it's no use saying, “well they shouldn't judge” either. They do and they will. Just as you judge them and me. How do you feel, for example, when you meet someone to have a chat, and they just talk about me, me, me, what about me? The entire conversation is them seeking affirmation from you. They don't ask after you. And if you do voice an opinion, you are swiftly cut off mid-sentence as they bring the dialogue back to the most important person in the room, i.e. them. As you heard that description, I'm sure that someone came to mind and you have a judgement about them. How much you respect and trust them. We need to remember the elevator principle here:
There are some people in life who will bring you up, and there are many more who will bring you down – The Elevator Principle.
If you ask anyone about gaining respect from others, they will tell you that you cannot get it until you give it. It's almost ‘why should I respect you if you don't respect me?' So start by making a list of all the people whom you need to, or want to influence. Write them down in two columns, the easy ones and the real tough ones. (I've created a worksheet that you can download for this.) For each individual on the easy list, write a note about ONE thing that you like, love or admire about them. Just ONE thing. Now do the same with the tough list. ONE thing that you could, if you choose to, love, like or admire about them. If you are struggling with an individual, what about their accent, their clothes, their hair, cleanliness, or wanton disregard for personal hygiene. You only need to identify ONE thing.
Choose to make the other person your centre of attention when you have time together. Ask about their lives, and, if you want to really gain traction in your influence, ask them what they did at the weekend. Listening attentively to what they did, the words they use and the order they share. No-one, in my experience, has ever objected to being asked what they did at the weekend. No-one, in my experience, has ever found being told something admired or liked about them has ever objected to being told. They often want more, but they don't object.
I'm not asking you to brown nose, just to share something that you love, like or admire and ask them about them, their life, what matters to them.They may suspect that of course, but do this without any desire or need for reciprocity. You're asking what they did at the weekend because most people spend their weekends doing the things they love to do, with the people most important to them. So if they spend their entire weekend working (as in the time that they should be off work) then, working is more important to them than their family or personal life. That may be a temporary situation, but ask every week, and you'll find patterns emerging.
I worked with a delightful young leader. She was one of the nicest, must humble and talented people in her field. Few of her colleagues respected her for her work. She was liked, but not respected. In meetings, she would be quiet, and she would do her work as quietly and unobtrusively as possible. Her work was exemplary, but no-one knew that it was her work. She never asked for, nor was ever given credit.
If you hide all of your light under a bushel, no-one will see it.
That isn't to say that all your best work should be done as loudly as possible, but do show the self-confidence and assert your right to have your work recognised.
It's a problem I see with many tech leaders. So much of their work is hidden from the eyes of others. Few people see the work that you put into the project because all they see is the output, and if you make it look real easy, then it doesn't deserve much respect now does it? If you don't blow your own trumpet, no-one will blow it for you. Just please remember, you're not alone in this band. Even Bix Beiderbeck knew when to be silent and let others have a say.
Trust is a fickle thing. A thousand years can be undone in a moment.
Trust is: “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. When I can rely on you and know that you will come through as you promised, then I can trust you. There is a delay built into our choice to trust someone or something, and I discussed that in an earlier Leadership AdvantEdge Podcast.
You trust someone more when they speak highly of you, they appreciate you, they always treat you and everyone else fairly, they are never biased, they always hold you in the highest esteem. Great leaders give you deserved credit for your ideas and contributions and never take the credit that belongs to someone else. Even when they themselves are being unfairly treated, denigrated or the victim of malicious gossip, a great leader doesn’t bite back. Great leaders treat even their enemies with respect and dignity.
Building trust can be as simple as turning up to a meeting on time. Not apologising for unknown traffic conditions, on time in spite of the traffic conditions. It's as easy and as difficult as keeping promises made, no matter the personal cost.
Go back to the list you created earlier. Write down beside each name is the “easy” column the ONE thing you can do to win more of that individual's trust. If you don't know… ask them. Now do the same with your “tough” column. ONE thing that you can do to win their trust. If you're having difficulties asking people directly, then listen attentively to their conversations. When people are moaning and complaining, they will often emphasise the things they dislike the most, and these tend to be the things that they think “should” be done differently or better. That's what they judge as being important.
It takes time to show consistency and be respected for listening and caring about them.
I help people unlock their talent, unstuck their potential and unleash their own (and their team's) performance through behavioural neuroscience based coaching and mentoring. Most whip smart independent contributors, technical specialists and managers get frustrated trying to be heard and understood by their business leaders and they lack enough time and inclination to develop the skills they need to move into management and leadership positions. Proven systems. A personal coach and mentor. I combine time-tested systems, behavioural neuroscience and psychology research and practical tools with the accountability and guidance of a 1:1 coach and mentor to UnLock your Talent, UnStuck Your Potential and UnLeash Your Performance.
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