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VIEWPOINT: Inspire individually

“Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D Eisenhower

A few days ago I received an email from a retailer with whom I have an account requesting that I provide feedback on a particular customer experience.

My habitual response was to delete such requests, but the words “You are one of 25 select customers chosen to complete this survey” caught my eye. It did make me feel slightly more valued than usual to be asked for my opinion amongst what I was sure was a vast consumer base. I then succumbed completely after the line “We will add R100 to your account for completing this survey!”

The situation reminded me of an experiment in which participants were given an opportunity to buy a discounted coffee mug.

Some people were told they were randomly selected to get the discount, whereas others believed everyone had got the discount.

It was found that those who were told they were selected were three times more likely to want to buy the mug than the others who thought everyone got the discount. Santa Clara University researchers Jerry M Burger and David F Caldwell concluded that people’s self-esteem is tied to factors that set them apart from the crowd, and so they are drawn to any “special” opportunities that appear to single them out.

The ability to lead your team in a way that makes each person feel special requires you to think of yourself more as a leader than a manager.

A leader understands the importance of recognising the unique talents a person brings to a team and using it to motivate them on an individual level. Such a person excels in pushing team members to reach their full potential and encourages each person in a tailored way that takes their individual personalities into account.

A good place to start leading on an individual level is during performance appraisals.

Although I’m a firm advocate of the continuous performance approach, performance appraisals do have the advantage of a serving as a reflection point after a set period of time. This is ideal for providing feedback relevant to an individual regarding targets they have set.

Dwight D Eisenhower once described leadership as “the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it”.

This year round, try focusing on making your team members feel that their needs, areas of growth and ambitions are addressed on an individual level by providing them with feedback that speaks to their sense of value as an employee. ❐

Author: Brett Tromp CA(SA) is CFO of Discovery Health