September 25, 2012

Read the Instructions

We live in a plug-in-play world. The gadget comes with an instructional manual but few of us take the time to read it. Our collective impatience is too strong. We want to open the box and start using it. If there’s a problem, we’ll call someone or research the answer online. But what do we do when we can’t figure out how people work?

There is no owner’s manual with human interaction and relationships. Decades of experience can only give us a guide but each person is wired and motivated differently. We can’t simply apply one rule for all yet often the business world tries to do just that.

You hear claims such as; “millennials behave this way” or “women 25-49 don’t like that” which are a generalizations. Marketing companies try and predict habits and companies attempt to guide behavior. No two people in history are identical.

Leadership is Complex

While working with enterprise teams, there are times when they seem lost or unsure what to do next. Another member of our leadership group reminded me recently to trust the process. To me, it meant trust the work we put in to build it and trust our choices in those who we include to work with us on it. This is not to suggest we don't refine the process. In fact it is exactly why we have to pay close attention to the input of others so we can create better solutions together.

If you have kids, you may have taught them how to ride a bike. At first, you put on training wheels, and then over time you raised them off the ground so your child could slowly learn how to balance. Then the day came when the training wheels were removed. You may have stood nervously as they started to pedal off without your help or the help of two extra wheels. That’s trust in them, the system, and yourself. You gave them the tools but eventually had to let them find their way.

Without investing time in people's motivation, we will never know how the gadget works.

Kneale Mann

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