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What’s in it for me?

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Organisations and leaders drive their people towards certain actions and results. They face challenges in putting their men and women to work in harmony. This has been an age-old challenge which our homes, schools and colleges do not seem to address adequately. Hence, we do not know how to make a group of human beings see value in doing a few things in unison.

Human beings bring forth their own mind and heart together to work. That’s why leaders find it challenging to align many hearts and minds at the same time. We know, minds work logically; they search for a reason to act and behave in a particular manner. And the heart either props up or downplays the will to act in that manner. The trick lies in knowing what does the mind consider valuable. And if it involves a group to think alike, we need to know what are the common factors that are considered valuable by the group. The leader needs to know his audience well. This is easier said than done!

Engaging the hearts of the group is more difficult than knowing their minds and preferences. Building trust and faith on a mutual basis is a gradual process that takes time, effort and the will of the leader and the led. A common purpose that is appealing for both can bring them on the same platform; and then, the leader can make efforts to build the trust. At times, the leaders operate from the platform of power and authority to win the hearts of their people. This doesn’t work unless there is a common cause that unites them in the immediate term. Just in case, the leader and the led come to the same page, the faith doesn’t get built mutually without the investment of time and effort from both sides.

Many organisations structure themselves into teams by drawing people across cultures, geographies and multiple lines of authority. In such cases, it’s quite a challenge for the leader to know what’s valuable for the team; and more so, to engage the hearts of their team members. While it is fashionable to build cross-cultural teams and the optimal to leverage on availability of talent across geographies, it is not very efficient for the organization to run it sustainably unless the team operates over a long period of time, team members are mature to make it work and they invest time to make the matrix structure work.

So, it’s important for a manager to figure out ‘what’s in it for me’ (WIIFM) factor of his team members. His communication has to address WIIFM factor and touch the hearts of his team-mates. Several times, managers forget to address the WIIFM angle and focus on the tasks that they want to get done. Then the team sees selfishness of the manager and stops relating to him and his missives. That’s the sure way to lose a game!

What’s in it for us? We can be effective in getting things done. Let us make our homes, schools and colleges the place to practise presenting our intentions in a way that appeals to the minds of hearts of others.

Remember, our folks think WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) while listening to us. Learn to address their question!

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