by Shelle Rose Charvetcurious horse

It has often been said that the leader’s function is to create the vision and objectives for their teams and organizations. It is true, this is important. However, to successfully achieve the vision and objectives, leaders really need to understand the strengths of their people, what they need to be motivated and how to make the most of their employees’ scarcest resource, their time. But this is not an article about time management.

We know that groups and individuals are motivated differently; think differently, work differently and are effective under different conditions. When leaders understand themselves, their teams and their customers, they have the information they need to plan how to achieve their objectives. They also have the tools to become a persuasive leader. This is vitally important for meeting planners as they have to rely on everyone doing the right thing at the right time.

For example, if team members are great problem solvers; then problem-solving is the task they need to be focusing on. These people may find it difficult to stay focused on achieving the objectives since preventing and solving problems attract all their attention. On the other hand, staff members who are motivated to achieve goals and completing and are driven to complete and finish things may not be as attentive to things that could wrong. Think of all the problems may occur in a business event because they slipped through the cracks.

The same kind of thinking needs to be done about clients and other stakeholders. If the reason people want to attend your event is to solve a pressing problem, then it is important to use what is called “Away From” language. Many sales and marketing professionals become fixated on discussing the benefits of their products and services, but if their customers are more motivated to avoid problems, then benefits are not compelling. You can lead a horse to water, but what if it’s not water the horse wants? The language of avoidance and prevention is what they need to be persuasive.

These “Motivation Triggers”[1] also describe how different people approach their activities. Some prefer to follow a step-by-step straightforward process, while others would rather explore alternatives and create more possibilities and options. These are two completely different thinking styles. A meeting delegate who prefers a step-by-step process will be interested in how to topics. People who would rather develop possibilities are looking for a wide range of choices and alternatives, and generally won’t be engaged unless they can get a special deal of some kind. It is harder to get these people to commit and they sometimes don’t like to decide.

As a leader, when you use the right language to motivate your team and your clients, it is as if you have opened the door to their mind and you now have the opportunity to speak directly to their needs and their emotions. If you fail to use the correct language, many times they will not even perceive that you are addressing them.

Leaders who have a more sophisticated understanding of their employees and the critical functions that need to be done are well placed to shift their teams to become high performing teams. Marketing organizations around the world are now using complex combinations of these patterns, both to design their marketing programs, TV commercials, print ads, direct mail etc to test their marketing campaigns. Professional salespeople are now able to create or follow a sales process based on the below conscious triggers that their customers use when making a purchasing decision.

Running effective teams is clearly a question of understanding the task and having great relationships with the people. Creative people tend to run creative meetings often without confirming who will do what by when. This can be chaotic, especially for those who need a clear cut process. You can plan around the purpose of the meeting. For example, is this a problem-solving meeting where the Away From team members can lead the discussion? Do we need to offer many alternatives or only a few to meet the delegates’ needs? Determine the purpose and format of the meeting to benefit from the participants’ strengths instead of putting them through excruciatingly long or unproductive sessions. Have you ever been to a meeting that had no discernable purpose?

Convincing people is also a function of a clear purpose/objective and an in-depth knowledge of your audience. Perhaps your audience needs your guidance and wants you to have a clear cut method in how you present your ideas. Or maybe you are working with a group filled with rebellious, divergent thinkers, who want you to explore alternate universes. What do you want them to take away and do later? If your goal is to make sure they put some ideas into practice, the key is to have your audience already living in the future, visualizing what will be happening as they are carrying out your suggestions.

Imagine all the horses chomping at the bit to drink from your cup!

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[1] Motivation Triggers, from the Language and Behavior Profile (LAB Profile®) describe what a person or group needs to be motivated or interested. These Patterns are fully described in Words That Change Minds: Mastering the Language of Influence by Shelle Rose Charvet.