The Essence of the Human Race
Since the beginning of time people have compared themselves to one another, initially by strength, attractiveness and intellect.
As civilisation evolved and the rudimentary commerce of barter and exchange came into play it became possible for people to compare and rank themselves by accumulated wealth. Interestingly, since there was no “Sunday Times Rich List” the comparison by wealth was only possible through objects that overtly displayed success and status, horses, livestock, staff, houses…. So eventually the original comparisons of physical strength and attractiveness got replaced by a ‘social status’.
This perpetual comparison is an inherently human trait. Everyone of us has an inbuilt drive to be successful, to improve. It doesn’t matter what it is when we make any comparison of ourselves with someone else, we subconsciously always chose someone who is slightly better than us at say tennis or golf and this results in a desire to improve which I would assert is the essence of the continuation of the human race. We get a pay off from success in academia, sport, conquering the challenges of nature, business and politics in fact any human endeavour.
The Business Context
In the business world it is important to be ‘the innovative market leader’ that maximises market share, to exceed the annual revenue and margin targets, to ‘be the best’ and to generate shareholder value and investment, to continuously improve.
Given the choice between a strategy for your business that is flat and conservative and one that is ambitious and expansive people will always put more of of their energies behind the latter because it’s inspiring.
The most important thing to get from your people as a business leader is their ‘Buy-In’, the ‘WIFM’ (What’s in it for me?), if they get it they will pull with you and for you, if they don’t get it, it will be like herding cats. Remember in business success is only possible with everyone working coherently in the strategic direction you have set, without this there will be a lot of ‘Brownian Motion’ which results in reduced effectiveness.
How can “you” tap into this eternal goal driver?
- Make sure that ‘your success’ is ‘their success’ on a level that really matters to them
- Make sure your business goals are clear and always ‘at least 50% possible’, i.e. don’t set the bar ‘too high’ or ‘too low otherwise you will miss the ‘sweet spot’, be inspiring.
- Show that you have an honest and fair approach to business, make sure that your business values are clear and widely accepted throughout your organisation.
- Never ‘rest on success’, always have the next step in preparation but take note of point 2 above.
- Never forget that ‘your people are people’ and that they have an inherent desire to do well, be thanked and to see some tangible benefit in return.