We all know someone who is bent on always being the “smartest” guy in the room.
You know who I mean! The person who always corrects others, has an opinion on everything – even on those matters where they have absolutely no knowledge – speaks with great authority on every topic and, for the most part, is blissfully unaware of how unimpressed most people seem to be with their genius.
Many, if not all of us have worked either for or with supervisors and managers who managed by decree. There is only a one way to do things – their way. They will brook no argument nor tolerate any disagreement.
They are of course, always right.
We have also, many of us, worked with or been around people who truly are extremely bright. People who really do seem to know everything, can solve almost any problem, always know exactly what to do and never make mistakes.
And yet often, these extremely smart folks seem to be lacking one rather unique character trait.
They appear to be almost robotlike and seem to lack any form of emotion except, perhaps, anger.
And we have also been around those who, like most of us, are fallible, don’t always know what to do, seem to take a little longer than most to grasp concepts and yet seem to attract people because they have one rather unique character trait.
They are likable.
Not for a moment am I suggesting that intelligent, competent and smart people are all without personality and that the not too bright ones, like me, are all extremely likable, but what I am suggesting is that there appears to be a correlation between being likable and being liked and another correlation between being liked and being respected.
I have worked in organizations led by extraordinary talented leaders whose brilliant leadership has been overlooked due to their seeming lack of interpersonal engagement skills.
And I’ve worked in organizations in which highly innovative initiatives implemented by the leadership have been dismantled within days of those leaders leaving the organizations simply because the dislike that many felt towards those leaders blinded them to the advantages of retaining those initiatives.
Whenever I’ve encountered managers and leaders who demonstrate this type of behavioral style I am always amazed at the seeming lack of awareness, or lack of caring, they seem to have regarding the impact their conduct has on their co-workers.
I have talked with leaders who have told me that they believe that kindness, politeness and friendliness are too easily misconstrued as weakness and that they believe their role as leaders is to clearly communicate “who’s boss around here” and to let it be known they are here not to be liked but to drive results.
It’s as if they believe those two to be mutually exclusive.
I witnessed all too often the long-term results of this type of style and, frankly, I don’t get it.
The cost of treating people this way is extraordinarily high in that it frequently leads to employees living their lives by what is called “The Maximum/Minimum Rule.”
This rule states that the Maximum output delivered by an employee to the organization will be the Minimum required to prevent reprimand, penalty or termination.
In other words folks figure out exactly the lowest level of productive effort that is expected of them in order to avoid drawing negative attention to themselves.
That’s what they do and that’s all they do.
And sadly, the maximum minimum rule robs organizations of something that is an absolutely essential requirement in order for great organizations to be built.
That something is known as “Discretionary Effort.”
Discretionary effort to simply defined as those extra things we do with no expectation of reward and with no fear of reprisal or recrimination for not doing them. It is those many extra things we all do whenever we feel a close part of something, and when we feel valued.
We do these things for one simple reason; we want to.
Ironically the cost of treating people well, of being accessible, respectful, friendly and polite is absolutely zero.
It’s fascinating to realize that something that costs nothing to deliver has an enormous cost when not delivered.
Many years ago a very smart man named Theodore Roosevelt said something so staggeringly profound and yet so stunningly simple that it is hard to fathom why so many of us lack an understanding of this powerful truism.
He said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Incredibly wise words to live by and a powerful lesson for each of us.
And a lesson that applies not just in the workplace but in every area of our lives.
Let’s not just care, let’s show we care.
Till we read again.
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