A successful testimonial on leading someone so she wanted to be led again

An attendee of one of my seminars on How To Lead People So They Want You To Lead Them Again wrote to her seminar-mates and me the results of her putting what she learned into practice. She had mentioned during the seminar an employee she had written off as unmanageable, who consistently disregarded her agreed-on priorities in favor of less important tasks and showed uninspired morale. Maybe you’ve worked with such people or felt like being that way yourself when your leaders didn’t inspire you.
The attendee also got an MBA at Columbia, which is how she found me. She works at a start-up, though got hired by a major firm where she will start soon, which motivated her to practice some leadership training, which led her to my seminar.
After years of practicing what I teach myself, I’m still amazed at how much making someone feel understand can improve relationships, personal and professional, especially when you connect the emotion you find to a task. And of what happens when you make them feel misunderstood.

Hey Guys,

This is A., the one that works at the fashion company.  I just wanted to give you an update about my experience putting the lessons from the seminar into action.  You might remember the ecommerce new hire I mentioned that I was having trouble with – the one who was working on a million other things except for her priority tasks?  We went out for coffee and I told her that I wanted to meet and find out what she likes to do.  She seemed caught off guard by the question and thanked me for asking.  She said she likes to own processes from start to end, which is why she enjoys creating sales on our mobile app partner, managing the ecommerce product shoots where she brings together models, hair/makeup people, a photographer to produce the product photos that we post on our website etc.  She likes being in charge and seeing results.

I asked her what her role would look like if she could create the role/responsibilities herself.  She painted a similar picture to what the company would.  I asked her then, how can we get her excited about selling full price merchandise on our site (which was NOT one of the things she listed as what she likes to do – of course I didn’t point that out).  I learned that she doesn’t like the way the site is laid out and finds it hard to use as a selling tool.  However, the company doesn’t have budget to make big changes to the site right now, which we discussed.  We came up with a plan where she would sell the products through focused events on our mobile app partner.  This will allow her to do all of the things she likes to do – project manage events from start to finish and see the sales results.  We’ll see if it works but she seems super excited and is busy working away to set things up.

Also some other nice things have happened since we talked.  Previously she was always late in the morning, with some excuse.  Since then she’s been arriving at the office on time, with a bright/positive attitude, and has been a joy to work with.  She’s also proactively responded to things rather than waiting for us to remind her repeatedly about tasks she should be doing.  During our conversation, my attitude about her changed, because I really understood where she was coming from, and I’m sure this has affected my own interactions with her because I’m thinking only positive thoughts about her these days.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to see the long term results of working with this employee as my last day of work at this company is on Friday.  But I experienced very positive results with my first attempt to use the techniques that we talked about in class.  I hope you guys have too.  Thanks Joshua for introducing this new way of working with people to me.

P.S. In case what I wrote is a little confusing.  Before our talk, the employee was selling stuff on the mobile app but she was selling discounted merchandise, which was not a priority for the company.  During our talk she proposed a way to sell full price items on the same app, and that’s what we’re trying out now.

After I asked her if I could post her story, she wrote about how the relationship continues to improve in new ways, following that application of what she learned.

I also have an addendum!  Today the same employee asked me for some time to speak alone.  She’s setting her goals to finish out 2014 and for 2015 per our performance review process that she’s beginning late, since she just started.  She asked  for my opinion about her proposals (all were fine) and we also did some role playing to simulate how she would anticipate to the company that after achieving the 2015 goals she would want to be considered for a management title and for higher compensation.  During the first role play she was pretty forceful and said some things that would not go over well with the company.  By repeating a few times, we found a way to communicate what she wanted to say in a way that was pleasant and digestible for the company to hear.  I wish her the best of luck and I’m pretty sure that I’ll be hearing from her again in the future!

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