Leadership Skills: The Advantage of Mutual Advantages

I feel a strong desire to share the universal principle of mutual advantage with you because we can all benefit from it.

I heard the ideas come out of my mouth while proposing a consulting solution to an executive in charge of eCommerce for a financial services giant.

He asked me to describe the core philosophy and approach of The Leadership Gift™ Program, and of Partnerwerks™ seminars and consulting, and here’s what I said:

1. First is the individual perspective.

Most people don’t realize this, it is in every individual’s best interest to take personal responsibility for the productivity of every team, partnership, and collaboration in which she serves.

Why? Simple: because her personal performance and thus her eventual compensation and future reward depends on how the team performs.

Managers and consultants have done a lousy job of educating individuals to this fact. Instead, we tell individuals that they should subordinate their own self interest for the good of the team.

That leads me to the organizational perspective.

2. There are two points to the organizational perspective.

The first point: Individuals will always act in their own self-interest. That’s the way our nervous systems are designed. Whether we are driven by logic (most of us, some of the time) or emotion (most of us, most of the time), our actions are always in concert with our own perceived outcomes.

For a cool perspective and graphic depicting how we pursue our outcomes in relation to others, see the model on page 154 of “Teamwork Is An Individual Skill: Getting Your Work Done When Sharing Responsibility.”

If you’d like a copy, here is the link to order it from Amazon.

The second point in the organizational perspective: Organizationally speaking, nothing happens unless there is mutual advantage.

Think about it — how can you bring a team or organization to a standstill? Just make sure that the interests of the members are at odds with each other.

In large-scale organizations, we sometimes refer to this condition as “bureaucracy” (though bureaucracy is not a negative word and only refers to compartmentalization — like your “bureau” in your bedroom, socks in one drawer, T-shirts in another).

How do you get a team or organization to move fast? Get all the interests aligned.

Want a few more examples?

  • How do you move a negotiation forward? Easy: see how many of each party’s “interests” can be easily met.
  • How do you resolve a conflict? Simple: find a joint interest that is larger than each party’s individual interest.

Do you agree? Then apply the universal principle of mutual advantage to advance every one of your relationships at work.

Get Started With This 5-Minute Stretch

Examine any team, partnership, or department that you are a part of and ask yourself “Have I paid sufficient attention to the principle of mutual advantage?”

If so, congratulations. If not, take action.

Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Attend the acclaimed Creating Results-Based Teams workshop, or get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

Posted in Leadership on 11/11/2013 01:57 am
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