6 Ways to Lure People Off the Bandwagon and Away from the Herd

People want to stand out and be important. They want to make a difference with their contributions. Secretly they are ripe with fresh ideas about how to do things differently.


But they also fear rejection.


In fact, we each dreadfully fear rejection.


This fear of rejection from the herd often mutes those ideas. People avoid innovative thinking because it requires them to step outside of their comfort zone and leave the herd, even for a moment.


Their fear of rejection overpowers their desire to be different.


There are 6 ways that you can influence people to answer to their innovation instead of to their fear-inducing, idea-squelching herd.


6 Ways to Lure People Away from the Herd and Influence them to be Innovative Instead of Fearful:


            1. Embrace the word “Pilot”

“Pilot” is a magical word, communicating an experiment, not perfection. It demands forgiveness for imperfections. Slap it on any idea or new project and you can help people take action in the face of their fears.


            2. Ask for forgiveness, not permission

Grant people the freedom to take action without getting everyone’s permission. As long as such action will not endanger another’s life or job or the company’s survival, then let them ask for forgiveness to overcome any looming initial rejection from the fearful herd.


            3. Give the go-ahead

Give people the go-ahead with creativity and new ideas. People seek encouragement to step out and be innovative. You have the power to be encouraging and cheer innovation.


            4. Encourage curiosity

Curiosity is the key to innovation. With curiosity comes the magical questions: “Why?” and “Why not?” When people approach the world with curiosity, they inevitably generate new perspectives, ideas, and solutions.


            5. Tickle the brain

To leverage curiosity, you need people to generate fresh, gripping ideas. There are 3 activities that result in breakthrough ideas: brainstorming, brainwriting, and brainsteering.


            6. Cheer for failure

Each time we fail, we learn how not to do something, and that learning connects synapses in the brain. Cheer for people’s failure and allow for conversation about what they’ve learned from it.

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6 Ideas for a Crazy-Happy Workplace

There’s nothing more disheartening than walking into the office and being greeted with doom and gloom. As the person with the title, you have 3 choices: ignore it, support it, or counteract it by intentionally creating a positive environment.


 Better yet, let’s not stop at postive, let’s go for crazy-happy!
(like my niece and nephew in this great Marilyn-Monroe-inspired picture!)


While not the end-all-be-all, positive environments contribute greatly to people’s fortitude. If we insist that our people be positive with our customers then we cannot tolerate an environment that is not affirmative, optimistic, encouraging, and upbeat the rest of the day.


As moxie-leaders, we have the opportunity – and the obligation – to foster an environment that sustains its energy, not sucks it. To do this, recognize that your environment is made up of individual people, and individuals make or break environments.


Therefore we create crazy-happy environments one person at a time.


How do we do this? By encouraging people to keep their perspective, say “yes!” to opportunities, have compassion, look for the good, clap regularly, laugh often, and cheer.


6 Ideas for Creating Crazy-Happy Environments:

(1)          Create a Toastmasters chapter

A whole organization dedicated to clapping for people’s efforts around speaking. Inevitably uplifting.


(2)          Start a mastermind group

An opportunity for people to connect over brainstorming and problem-solving.


(3)          Encourage communities

Encourage people to connect with each other in communities such as book clubs, running clubs, and charity work.


(4)          Launch a mentoring program

The fastest way for people to learn something new is to have someone else guide them. Through a mentoring program, you are encouraging people to learn from and guide each other.


(5)          Enroll coaches

Coaches can be internal or external. Teach people to coach each other with proven coaching skills and you’ll create a positive environment in which people are growing personally and professionally.


(6)          Reframe naysaying as merely a challenge

Challenge people to put naysaying comments and negative people into perspective. Negativity is merely a reflection of another person’s fears. Encourage compassion, and then encourage people to benchmark such naysaying against a life’s worth of evidence to the contrary. Then ask them to use such naysaying as a challenge to stretch and succeed.

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7 Keys to Lift the Communication Fog

Every communication between two people either contributes to or contaminates the relationship.


There is no place in-between.


Communication that contributes moves the relationship forward because we provide some information, connect with the other person, or learn something about them.


Communication that contaminates get in the way of the relationship because we confuse the other person, miscommunicate, fail to communicate, offend them, or fail to consider or respect the other person’s viewpoint or feelings.


When we contaminate relationships with our communication, we create fog. The other person is left wondering what we said, what we meant, or what we feel about them or the relationship.


Effort vs. Result? Intent vs. Perception?

We can argue that we didn’t mean to contaminate. We tried to communicate, but the other person doesn’t get it. That, however, is just confusing effort with result, and intent with perception. The person on the other end of your communication doesn’t care about your effort or intent; they only care about the result and their perception.


Let’s consider 7 ways that we can lift the fog that we seem to constantly create and communicate to intentionally contribute, instead of unintentionally contaminate.


7 Keys to Lifting the Communication Fog


1. Walk in their shoes

Irrefutably the most powerful thing you can do in your relations with others is to see the world from their perspective. Imagine what it would be like to receive the communication that you just delivered.


2. Listen like your job depends on it.

Our job as the leader is to listen intentionally and relentlessly. To listen to understand their perspective, not to agree with it. This means clearing the distractions and focusing 100% on the other person.


3 kinds of listening:

  • Relentless – focused on relentlessly listening to understand the other’s view
  • Squabble – focused on proving a point, not on understanding
  • Muddled – focused on multi-tasking, not on understanding


3. Speak to be understood.

Always assume that you are responsible for a miscommunication. When a miscommunication occurs, assume that the error was on your end of the communication. Can you stomach that? If you can, get ready for unbelievable results!


4. Set expectations.

People just want to be winners, not losers. The easiest way to help others win is for everyone to understand expectations from the beginning.


5. Give feedback.

People, just like pilots, need feedback to be specific, immediate, and on-the-job. Yearly performance evaluations are at best a dashboard of where people are. They don’t offer any behavior-impacting advice of in-the-moment feedback.


6. Ask for feedback

Have you ever asked your people, “So how am I doing? What can I do better to serve you?” If not, what are you afraid of? Ask and you will engender their trust as well as discover some fog that needs clearing.


7. Suspend your stories

When we miscommunicate, fail to communicate, or create missed expectations, people on both sides are left to wonder, filling in gaps with their made-up stories. Suspend your own stories when you are left to wonder and go to great lengths to lift fog instead of dance with conflict.

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7 Signs that People are Starving for Recognition

Influencing Tenet # 8 states: “We each have an insatiable appetite to be respected, appreciated, valued, and heard.”


With billions of people on the planet, we all need to know that we matter. We may grow up in size but we are still little kids inside. We are no different than my delicious niece LuLu. We just want people to notice us. (Here’s LuLu in her new ballerina outfit.)


And like all little kids, we look outside of ourselves for this recognition.


But the people we look to are also looking for recognition. As a result, we are all running around looking for recognition. That leaves a lot of people hungry for it.


As a moxie-leader you get it. On top of which you intentionally recognize people for their efforts and their contributions. But even the best of you gets caught up.


Want to take the pulse of your recognition efforts? Here are a few signs that people are hungry for recognition and sometimes even starving.


7 Signs that People Need Some Recognition


1.       They talk incessantly

…and not about anyone else. They talk incessantly about themselves. They force an audience to pay attention to them.


2.       The look like they just rolled out of bed

They don’t care because no one is noticing anyway.


3.       They create drama

Notice how some people never get attention until some drama occurs. When they are drama-free, they are recognition-free. We have literally trained them to create drama in order to get our attention.


4.       They grumble and gripe.

This is the “squeaky wheel gets oiled” mantra. We pay attention to the people who whine, gripe, grumble, and complain. Again we have trained them to do this to be recognized.


5.       The reenact Lord of the Flies

They eat their friends just to get others to notice them. They will throw someone under the bus (proverbially speaking) if it will get you to notice them.


6.       They go elsewhere

People leave when they aren’t getting recognition. The same dance happens in marriages as it does in the office.


7.       They stop showing up

Sometimes they don’t leave when they want to. Instead they show up in body but not in mind or spirit or in moxie. They become walking zombies. These people have resigned that since you won’t be recognizing them, then you don’t get to benefit from their contributions.


Shame on them. Shame on us.


It takes courage to recognize the reality. It takes courage to listen. It takes courage not to get defensive or be righteous when we do. It takes courage to feed people the recognition that they need. That’s when moxie-leadership is born.

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13 Ways to Recognize Others (Check out how Wayne, OH does it!)

One of the 10 Influencing Tenets reads: “We each have an insatiable appetite to be respected, appreciated, valued, and heard.”


The Need for Recognition

People need us to recognize them and their contributions. They need us to acknowledge that they make a difference. Without recognition they don’t matter. They aren’t important. And they certainly don’t make a difference.


Manager-Leaders Miss the Boat

Most manager-leaders operate under the false pretense that recognition makes people complacent. So they withhold it, convinced that people will work harder for it. The reality is that the lack of it is makes people feel rejected and when people feel rejected, they’ll reject back. Hence, the plethora of “My boss is a jerk” comments.


Moxie-Leaders Get It

As moxie-leaders, we have the opportunity – and the obligation – to recognize the contributions people make to the battle cry. In so doing, we are helping people meet their need to make a difference, their need to feel important, and their need to be respected and appreciated.


Wayne, OH Gets It

As I cycled through Wayne OH on The Moxie Ride this past summer, I came across this sign painted on the side of the main building in town (pictured above). My first thought, “Does Ken Brooks know he is a sorehead???”


Apparently he does. I interviewed a town resident and she shared that the residents vote every summer for the town sorehead. It is actually an honor to get your name on the wall. Why? No better way to be recognized than to have the town paint your name on the side of a building!


Recognizing others is so easy.

Here are 13 ways to recognize others powerfully in day-to-day interactions.


1.Leverage a weekly report update

Ask people to update you on their accomplishments that week and then acknowledge them.


2.  Sing their praises to others

In front of Person A, tell Person B what a great job Person A is doing and why.


3.  Employ a “Victory Log”

Ask people to record their ongoing accomplishments since they started working for you and ask to see it periodically.


4.  Pause for the applause

Stop people and say thanks for something specifically, like the way they put the agenda together.


5.  Encourage people to create a WIN File

This is a file of thank you notes, congratulation emails and cards, certificates, and other wins.


6.  Decorate with applause

Encourage people to decorate their cubicle/office with awards, certificates, prizes, acknowledgements.


7.  Give gifts and tchotchkes

Let people know you are thinking about them. Give them a gift out of the blue and for no reason other than to acknowledge their contributions. It can be big or small.


8.  Put the recognition in writing

Email it, put it in a letter, put it on a plaque. People like to see their name next to your acknowledgement in writing.


9.  Be specific with your recognition

A “thank you” is good, but a “thank you for getting the report in on time” is much more powerful.


10.  Hang your recognition on the wall

Put the plaque on the wall. Let the world know you think your people rock.


11.  Remember people

Remember what people are interested in. Read the paper and rip out an article that you think they’ll like. Send them a link to a website that will further their goals. Give them a book on something they’re interested in.


12.  Notice people

Good moods and bad moods. Notice what state they are in. Frenzied, harried, elated. Take notice.


13.  Skip the birthday day cake

They would rather be involved in a financial discussion about the company than be excluded. A birthday cake is nice, but never feeds a person’s need to make a difference. It just feeds their waist line. Skip the cake and feed their instinct to win instead.

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5 Ways to Determine if People Give a Damn

As moxie-leaders, we need the people around us to give a damn about success – their own and yours.


When people have a battle cry they believe in, they show up to fight for victory. People are dying to make a difference.


Sometimes however people sabotage even this core need. Usually it’s the result of missing information; but don’t be fooled, sabotage is always grounded in some fear.


Bottom line: we need people to care, and if they don’t, we better start asking why.


5 Ways to Assess People’s Quest for Victory in any Battle Cry:

1. Ask them what they believe they are working to accomplish – in the big picture. (Do they know your battle cry, your team’s battle cry, or the company’s battle cry?)


2. Ask them why they want to help accomplish that big picture. (Are they inspired by it? Do they feel it is important and meaningful?)


3.  Ask them why winning the battle matters to them professionally and personally. (What’s at stake for them? What is their battle cry?)


4.  Ask them what actions they have taken that were not specifically assigned to them but that contributed to victory. (We want to know if they feel like they can draw outside the lines, and if so, do they?)


5. Then model it for them. Show them what it means to give a damn. Show them what it looks like to be inspired, responsible, committed, and in action. Show them what moxie looks like. Show them how they can use moxie as a strategic advantage.


(This is a picture of a billboard I found at a church in Pennsylvania on my cross-country bicycle ride this summer (The Moxie Ride). It’s perfect when contemplating why people care or don’t care. They often lose sight of the most important moments. Your job is to remind them.)

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10 Strategies for Influencing Others to do More than Fog a Mirror

There are 10 strategies for influencing people to act with guts, tenacity, determination, and spirit. This is moxie and it’s the new strategic advantage at work and in play.

Innovation, growth, and brilliance suffocate when people fail to use their own moxie. Without moxie, people flounder. They show up in body, but not committed to anything. And when people don’t stand for something they will fall for anything. (See the picture of the billboard that I found with that great quote!)

A missed opportunity for them and for us.

As leaders, we have the ability (and the obligation) to influence, instigate, and empower people to leverage this new strategic advantage while working for us. When we empower people in this way, we evolve from manager-leaders into moxie-leaders. And so do our people.

Each of the 10 strategies below leverages the 10 influencing tenets that drive our behavior (see a prior blog post for the list of 10 influencing tenets).

1. Give Them a Battle Cry – people need to go into battle for a heroic reason

2. Fuel Their Self-Delusion – help people feel like it’s all about them

3. Pause for the Applause – recognize and appreciate regularly

4. Lift the Fog – communicate, communicate, communicate

5. Crush the Patterns – use actions to create new thoughts to then create more actions

6. Label Intentionally – eliminate toxicity and tap the power of labels instead

7. Deliberately Spoil Sabotage – foster a failure-free approach and address fear of rejection

8. Advocate for Discovery over Proficiency – it’s not about knowing, it’s about learning

9. Teach the Art of Bouncing – shift the focus from excuses to solutions

10. Make Waves, Not Ripples – change, shake things up, innovate

(This is a picture of me in front of the “Welcome to Pennsylvania” sign on my cross-country bike ride that I just completed this summer. I used every Influencing Strategy to succeed!)

You can read more about the 10 Influencing Tenets
and the 10 Influencing Strategies in my new book:
Moxie for Managers: The Secret to Evolving from Manager to Leader

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