Moore or Less: A Leader's Focus

MOORE-or-Less-Graphic.jpgFor years my wife, another couple, and I have participated in a couples bowing league.  We are not great bowlers, but we hold our own. During a recent game our team was not playing well and, being the competitive person I am, I became frustrated while the rest of the team seemed to be oblivious of the score. After losing (badly) we left, and during the car ride home a radio commercial hit me between the eyes. The point of the message was that if you are unhappy, frustrated, or angry in any given situation, perhaps you need to look at the direction of your focus.  Wow…like maybe that night’s score meant nothing? As if she could read my mind, my wife acknowledged that same point – while I was focused on my score, the rest of the team was focused on the benefit of being together and enjoying time together. Sometimes simple reminders provide the nudge we need to consider where we invest our time and energy.

That experience triggered a recollection of one of the insights gained from a book I read some time ago. In The Go Giver, Bob Burg and John David Mann emphasize that a drive for success can sometimes take people away from a notion that achievement comes easier when the focus is on two things – providing an experience of value and relationship. The relentless pursuit of success can blind us or rather turn focus away from these key elements, focusing on the end game rather than the experience in pursuing the goal. This revisited insight has been helpful as efforts to refresh the MSNA Strategy and Business Plans are undertaken during our traditional “planning season.” These insights may provide some help with your personal or professional reflections.

Essentially, the book focuses on the notion that a successful life is more easily obtained by enriching the lives of those around you first – before your own. While a simple and noble theory (that reads much like a previous leadership article on collaboration), it can be difficult to pursue in the fast paced,  disruption filled environment we live in thanks, in part, to technology. Burg and Mann’s proposition is about being a “Go-Giver” versus a “Go-Getter.”

The mentality of a Go-Giver is based upon both the enjoyment of giving and the idea that you get out of life what you look for throughout it. In other words, your thoughts tend to drive your behavior, which leads to the results you get. For example, if you are concerned about how people may screw up and make mistakes, the results you get tend to be just that – mistakes and disappointments. On the other hand, if you seek the best from people and commit to helping them achieve their best by positively emphasizing progress, your results tend to be desired and effective outcomes, like deep relationships based on trust and respect. In the leadership context, this typically translates into loyalty, alignment, and a positive culture – people want to be in a relationship with you!

To pursue this, the author outlines five laws or guidelines to becoming a successful Go-Giver.
  1. The Law of Value;
  2. The Law of Compensation;
  3. The Law of Influence;
  4. The Law of Authenticity; and, 
  5. The Law of Receptivity.
Under the Law of Value, a Go-Giver focuses on providing an experience that is memorable and offers something that can be savored, like a rich cup of coffee or hot chocolate on a cold winter morning. This law is not about the product or deliverable (which is the end product for professional services!), but instead it is about making people feel special. What do you offer to clients? Is it about a unique, differentiated experience? Or is it about the financial report, tax return, or software implementation?

The Law of Compensation, in some respects, is a numbers game. Under this law, compensation is ultimately determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. In other words, it is about the number of people to whom you offer value. The key to this is the underlying value and experience; however, a critical element to attracting people is your own conviction and passion. How does this come through in the way you interact with clients and team members?

The Law of Influence is all about your focus, dictating that it is not first on you, rather on the other individual. Like the aforementioned article on collaboration v. cooperation, this selfless focus helps build positive relationships that will return in some capacity down the road, but it is not transactional in nature. Thus, it is about the give, versus the score. When was the last time you gave something of real value not because you had to, rather because you were truly interested in helping the other person? What was it and how did that feel?

The Law of Authenticity looks at treating people as human beings first, even before thinking of them as customers. In doing this, the law suggests that this is about sharing your own uniqueness and remaining true to that, rather than trying to accommodate someone else’s message of who you should be. What is your personal brand message during your early relationship development stages with people who might become customers?

Finally, the Law of Receptivity is about trusting that reciprocity will occur and will balance things out in the end. The point is not about forcing it, rather accepting that the value will come back. This can be discounted as karma or yin and yang which is somewhat accurate, though it is really about trusting in yourself, taking risks, dreaming big and remaining curious. 

Application of these laws, especially the last one, can be difficult when the pressures of generating results are very real. When applied effectively, they do not represent the proposition that we should simply give-give-give. Rather we should focus on giving as part of an overall strategy that includes an expectation that positive things will be returned. The mindset shifts from a transactional to a relational orientation. 

While I seek to live and engage with others under these principles, I am not always successful, and I do trip and fall. One of the benefits of a strong professional community in MSNA is that there are people around me who will accept the flaws and help me up when I fall so we can learn, grow, and accept the next challenge together. Collectively, this is an opportunity for MSNA to transform from just another accounting firm association to the most sought after North American financial services association that focuses on the value to others first. Come along for a most amazing and awesome ride!