Allies rather than enemies

Unpacking: How to create allies rather than enemies

By Elephants in Main Street,
Allies rather than enemies

The first and most important agreement we must all have together is that each one of us can win, and that we can win together. To do this we must have a common goal.

How do you get people to move with you rather than against you? What is the secret?

The most important starting point, is a point of agreement. Every single one of us has the idea of trying to solve the problems and challenges we face each day. Maslow refers to this as a hierarchy of needs. We are all trying to meet our needs or survive.

Successful leaders keep this in the uppermost echelons of their minds when dealing with their people, their clients and their supply partners.

By way of an example, Chinese President Xi Jiping assumed full control of his country earlier this year, many thought his biggest challenge would simply be keeping the world’s second-largest economy, humming. Instead, it’s now become clear that his No.1 problem is dealing with the air pollution crisis all over China. Who cares about high-speed trains, mammoth real estate projects and giants leaps in the standard of living if, after 40 years of explosive growth, the government cant provide the most basic element for human existence: clean air.

Every move he makes is going to be scrutinized. He will need to position himself around the hot button… the core, the big priority that is ruining everyone’s life. He will need to look for agreement on this and move organisations, teams and leaders into place to take address this. That is of course if they can make their way to work, through the smog…

Have you asked yourself, do you know what the core, big priority that connects and bonds everyone together in your organisation or team is?

Find it, tackle it, and then build on it by tackling the next one and finding ways to link achieving the goal to handling the core big, priorities that change the quality of life for everyone. In other words, get personal, cut through the PR and find out what your people need and want and bond this to the achievement of the goal.

Once you have this link with the common goal, you will need to create a common opponent. The opponent must be outside your organisation. Too often we make the mistake of creating an opponent inside our own group. The classic examples are Operations vs. Finance or Sales vs. Marketing or Engineering vs. Maintenance or Safety vs. Construction. The list goes on and on, the names of the departments or divisions change, but the game perpetuates itself over and over again. The key is that the opponent must be outside the organisation.

I loved a recent article by Scott Cendrowski in Fortune Magazine where he warned Airbus and Boeing to look out for the new Chinese Jetliners (perhaps these are part of the 500-year Chinese strategy to deal with pollution).

Jokes aside, your opponent needs to be a player of comparable magnitude outside your company. An even bigger view on this would be to have all your opponents rallying together to build the finest flying machines on the planet… getting ready to terra-form Mars.

Zooming in on the Common Goal and the Opponent Outside rather than inside your company, the next step is a more personal and specific one:

Acknowledge the other person’s point of view. Listen, ensure understanding and acknowledge his or her point of view.

The fastest way to create an enemy is to fail to communicate, fail to listen, fail to understand and fail to notice what he or she has said or done.

In fact, take it one step further, admire the person for their point of view. A person only changes when they feel safe to do so. You make a person feel safe when you listen to them, you admire them and you notice them.

Noticing a person is not passing judgment or making them wrong, it is just recognizing their point of view. People are more willing to listen to your idea if you can listen to theirs and acknowledge it.

Try this with someone who has a different point of view.

Decide to sit down, listen and acknowledge them. Put aside any desire to make them wrong or impulse you may have to correct them. Simply listen, get understanding and tell them you have understood them.

Once done, they will be more willing to listen to you, more open and more able to hear your views. You create an ally this way, you start by building the foundation. Once done, you build on it by finding a common goal, linking your joint survival to achieving this goal and by helping this happen through clear plans, controls and actions.

So, to summarise:

  1. Remember above all else…we are looking for strategies to win. Find the common goal!
  2. Know that we all have obstacles or blocks that impede our achievement from time to time. Confront the issue together as a team.
  3. Know that your first action must be inclusive, how can we win together, how can we be the best or better than the current best? Be the source of help and improvement.
  4. Listen, understand and recognize the other people around you, pulling them closer, building a powerful network…harness the collective emotional superpower of your group.
  5. Don’t let ego or pride get in the way. Help your group grow, help them advance. That way you will be freed up to do this again and again. You don’t have to be in charge, but rather the source of sources, the maker of roles and responsibilities which produce expansion and improvement for your group.

Once done, celebrate and strengthen the group and the network, find a new, bigger goal and new range of viability and success… and repeat the above in greater and greater volumes whilst refining quality and value in each successive roll-out.

One last non-negotiable…deliver… nothing pulls people together better than mutual accomplishment! Delivery builds trust. Trust and execution are to a power network what oxygen, water and nutrients are to a body.

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