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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday 27 January 2014

Why Winners Aren't Leaders

Watch this video on the science of persuasion, think about political outreach and ask yourself this question - what's missing?

If you're like me, it's not intuitively clear.  Finding what's missing is always a challenge for the same reason stop-motion looks like movement; we have a tendency to fill in the pieces of the picture we feel are missing.

So let's go through the list:

Consensus - "our Party has received X number of donations from X number of your friends in (specify time frame!  You too can be a part of change/more of the same by donating now!"

Liking - The HOAG factor.  Pretty and charming people will beat bland nine times out of ten, which is why smart bland bosses let their more affable team members carry the public torch.

Consistency - messaging, anyone?  But more than this, go back to the fundraising side - how often have you been told that the smallest donation would make a big difference in helping you join the consensus?  It's the political equivalent to candy-flavoured cigarillos; if they can hook you with a taste, they know the odds are great you'll be a consumer for life.

Authority - The best leader with the best plan.  More than that, only they have the team, experience and solution to make whatever happen/stop whatever from happening.  For a recent example of demonstrated experience and authority, see Rob Ford's speech to the Economic Club of Canada.

Scarcity - scarcity of jobs, a deteriorating environment, more of what there is going to corporate elites, special interest groups, unions, foreign workers, socialists and separatists?  Indeed.

Reciprocity - This is an interesting one.  In theory, government is about penalization, coordination and even redistribution.  But are these things reciprocity?

Political Parties push for donations, but what do they give in return?  Campaigns will lean on volunteers to knock on doors and make calls, but what's the quid pro quo?  

Well, politics isn't really about direct reciprocity, is it?  Candidates and leaders need to win so that they can implement policies and such.  You want them to win because of what they provide on aggregate.  

The same is often true in business - for your organization to be strong, it's got to have the best (and therefore best-compensated) people at the top.  

Here's a little thing that my experience has taught me - the most successful people have an underdeveloped sense of reciprocity.  They look at life as a race, with the spoils going to the victor.  

The most competitive people get ahead and continue to get ahead in politics and business because, while the majority of people see reciprocity as both natural and desirable, to them it feels just a bit too much like rewarding failure.

Of course, the reverse is equally true.  While winners get ahead by putting themselves first, leaders catalyze change by putting their teams first.  

As political people love their war terminology, we'll frame it this way - the best leaders are the first on the field and the last to leave.  They will always eat last.  They will assume the commander in the field is right unless proven otherwise - not their inner circle.  Leaders don't consider their teams problems as inconveniences to be ignored but roadblocks to be overcome on the way to victory.

Most importantly - they give without expectation of getting anything in return and they never put themselves in a position where they can take from their team.

Something to think about as election season blows in.

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