They Won’t Help You if They Don’t Like You!

I saw a movie last night.

It conveyed a simple, but powerful message about leadership and teamwork, if you were watching and listening.

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The historically based film, The Imitation Game, featured Benedict Cumberbatch playing the role of Alan Turing. Turing and his team of code-breakers were feverishly racing against time, attempting to break Nazi Germany’s Enigma code during the Second World War. The movie depicted Turing as quite an arrogant, self involved, even a nasty person, who was placed in charge of the group of scholars, mathematicians, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers charged with breaking the Nazi code.

Turing had his one strategy for breaking the code, which was to place all of his energies and efforts into building a machine that could be considered the world’s first computer. He was hyper-focused on that initiative and ONLY that initiative. His team was made up of some members that were just as committed to reaching the same end goal, breaking the Nazi code, but they had other ideas and, hence, other agendas. Everyone was trying to achieve the same end game, but their pathways were opposing.

There was a misalignment of strategies. The leader was working on one big initiative while the team was working on a myriad of smaller ones.

A total misalignment of strategies inside of a sales team is bad enough. To add to his problems, however, Turing refused to clearly communicate to his team why he believed so strongly in his one big initiative, to create a machine to break the code, versus trying to do it by hand. Turing’s strategy was a far better approach, but instead of gaining buy-in for it through thoughtful communication, he simply cocooned himself in his own conceited bubble and figuratively told them to screw off.

The funny thing was, Turing was absolutely on the right path, one that would eventually accomplish three things:

  • End the war 2 – 4 years earlier
  • Save the lives of 14 million people
  • Create the world’s first functional digital computer

But he needed some help. He needed the synergy of the other great minds to refine the processes and strategies he was employing. But his team wasn’t going to help him…

…because they didn’t like him.

Okay, you say…so they didn’t like their manager or leader, what’s the big deal?

It IS a very big deal if you are leading any type of team, but if you are a sales leader of a 1099 sales organization you can crash and burn miserably if they don’t like you. Oh, you can get away with it for a while, especially if you are in the hierarchy of W2 personnel. But if you lead independent contractors, your dictatorship won’t last long.

In commission sales leadership, we are in a persuasion/motivation business.

It’s our job to persuade people to join us, buy into our mission and vision. It’s our job as leaders to motivate them to pursue the work and initiatives that will get them closer to their stated goals. If you choose to be a “my way or the highway” person, or the guy who says, “I don’t care if they like me or not, I just want results,” good luck to you…because those results you are looking for won’t happen.

You need to communicate openly with your team and listen to what they have to say. You need to invest the time necessary to gain their buy-in on the key strategies you want to employ and the directions you want to take your organization in. You need their help to reach all of your goals and objectives as a sales leader. And, guess what…they won’t help you if they don’t like you!

I have written about the gaping difference between leading by AUTHORITY versus INFLUENCE. If you have not read one of my older articles on this subject, please go to the link below and take a few minutes to review it.

So, you want to develop INFLUENCE with your team and that isn’t going to happen if they don’t like you.

Now, some of us are easier to like than others. I’m the kind of person who is very sensitive, emotionally driven and open. It’s easy for me to like people and be liked. I actually think it’s one of my greatest natural strengths. But if you are not used to connecting to people on a warmer, more personal level, there are some simple things you can do to forge a greater and deeper connection. Try these 3 simple methods to connect to your team on a more informal, personal level:

  • Invite key salespeople to have a cup of coffee with you outside the office
    • Don’t talk about business or their production
    • Tell them you APPRECIATE them
    • Thank them for all of their hard work
    • Ask them about their family or things you know they’re interested in
  • Send SNAIL mail notes of recognition to their home
  • Plan an event that includes spouses or significant others
    • Bowling night
    • Open house at your home

Okay, you get the point. CONNECT with your team and let them know you see them as individuals, not just a cog in your wheel. When you do this they will start to want to help you, collaborate with you, want to become a part of the mission you are so passionate about.

They will LIKE you and want to HELP you.

So what happened to our Turing character? The lady friend that he was quite close to saw his interaction with the team and advised him that he didn’t have a chance of getting to his stated goal if he stayed insulated and shut down toward the team. She told him that they weren’t going to help him if they didn’t like him.

Our fearless leader changed the way he interacted with the team. He began to become open to them. They, in turn, began to realize he was onto something big and they abandoned their flawed strategies to help him with his wildly important goal, to win the war. And they did.

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2 comments on “They Won’t Help You if They Don’t Like You!”

  1. Pingback: Your Most Powerful Leadership Instrument | The CAP Equation

  2. Pingback: The MAN or The PLAN? Which One Do We Undeniably Follow? | The CAP Equation

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