When You’ve Done Enough, Do More
July 16, 2013 Editor 0
How do you become truly influential? We’ve found that the most highly respected leaders avoid techniques to gain short-term compliance; they also steer clear of a self-centered “How can I get people to do what I want?” mindset. Instead, they take a different approach altogether.
We interviewed over 100 high-impact influencers from a wide range of industries and organizations for our recent book. To achieve real influence, they tend to follow four steps that turn typical persuasion strategies upside down. These steps are action guidelines all of us can use to get things done with people in ways that not only yield great results, but also strengthen relationships and enhance credibility.
In this post we cover Step 4: When you’ve done enough… do more.
Think back to the last time you helped someone very important in your life achieve a goal. Maybe you helped a friend with a business venture, participated in planning a wedding, or pitched in when a son or daughter moved to a new city.
When you offered your help, we bet you didn’t say, “I’ll take a few minutes to offer some advice, but for more than that you’ll have to do something for me.”
Instead, you spent hours running errands, hanging decorations, or moving furniture. You volunteered for messy, difficult, or time-consuming chores like cleaning the fridge or carefully writing 300 names on 300 place cards.
Why? Because you automatically do more for the people you care about deeply. In fact, you usually don’t even stop to think about it. It comes naturally to you because your relationships with these people matter and you want to strengthen them.
Of course, these relationships are special; they mean more to you than a business connection or a relationship with a casual friend. But in any relationship, you can go beyond what’s expected. When you do this, you make a statement about who you are as a person and a professional.
Our friend Kouji Nakata describes it this way: “It’s about not being the main attraction. You look for the angle of help; look for the angle of assistance. It’s like being a caring relative, like an uncle who really is taking an interest in his nephew. Look for the way that they can shine and help them do it. Don’t be the important piece. Step aside, get alongside them, and help them do great things and help them be happy.”
When you do this, you set the stage for positive influence both now and in the future. “Overdelivering” makes you stand out in the moment and makes people remember you later. You become locked in as someone who deserves to be listened to, and people don’t wonder whether you have ulterior motives or hidden agendas.
Doing more isn’t just a onetime thing but an ongoing practice. For maximum effect, you’ll want to focus on three distinct times when you can do more: before, during, and after an interaction.
When you begin interactions in this way — by doing more, and sometimes even taking a risk in the process — you form instant bonds with people who are tired of being ripped off, manipulated, or given the bare minimum of service. You prove immediately to these people that you have integrity. And they tell other people, who tell still more people.
In fact, you can “do more” for people who have no connection with you at all. Think of this as committing “random acts of doing more.”
David Bradford, former CEO of Fusion-IO, fell into a great outcome by doing exactly that. Here’s the story behind his break-through addition of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to Fusion-IO, which helped drive the organization’s phenomenal success.
David didn’t target “Woz.” Instead, one of David’s random acts of doing more led to a cascade of positive results.
David, who at the time was living in Utah, had a friend whose son was moving into the state and could use some help setting up his law practice. David obliged, helping get the young man connected and raising his visibility in the state.
A few months later, because of this connection, David received a request to speak at the Utah Bar Association. It was in Sun Valley, a five-hour drive for him, and he’d be speaking to a relatively small group. Many people would have considered it a complete waste of time. But David cheerfully agreed.
After the speech, he stayed for lunch. As it turned out, the keynote speaker was Steve Wozniak. Chance led Wozniak’s executive assistant to sit right next to David. She observed that Wozniak would probably enjoy the opportunity to speak with him, joking that he’d welcome “a kindred spirit from the information technology world in a room full of lawyers,” and she was right — they struck up a conversation.
It turned out that Woz had his eye on solid-state trends that Fusion-IO was exploring. Later David sent him materials and asked if he’d like to be a part of the advisory board. Wozniak said yes, and then went on to take the role of chief scientist.
Just random chance? Maybe. But in the bigger picture, the David Bradfords of the world don’t think of it as blind chance. They think, “That’s how it works.” It’s about a mindset that starts not with results, but with relationships. You may not have any clue where those relationships will lead . . . but that’s part of the excitement of real influence.
When you do more, always remember that you’re not “giving to get.” Never see your actions as a prelude to springing an uncomfortable request on another person. Instead, understand that your goals are to build long-term relationships and to make things better.
If you’ve noticed in yourself a “zero sum” mentality, work to move beyond it. It’s holding you back. Instead, think of the times in your own life when people have done more for you. How can you pay forward to others the positive influence these people gave you? How can you do more for people before, during, and after the projects you’re currently planning?
When you find ways to help other people learn, grow, gain, avoid problems, make progress, and achieve their goals, you achieve something far more important than near-term gain. You form the basis for ongoing results, enriched relationships, and an integrity-based reputation.
And that will lead — in wonderful ways you can’t even begin to predict right now — to real, lifelong influence.
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