Being Right But Doing It All Wrong!

The business I’m in involves a lot of coaching and guiding of franchisees to teach them how to coach and guide entrepreneurs, salespeople, and professionals to generate referrals for themselves and others.  Sometimes this feels a little like ‘herding cats’; entrepreneurs hate being told what to do and it takes a real skill set to move them in a direction that involves a lot of hard work but will help them achieve the results they want.

One of the biggest challenges I have in this process is not with the actual entrepreneur or salesperson but with the individual I’m coaching to be able to guide the entrepreneur or salesperson. These people have gone through many hours of training, tend to have a fair amount of field experience, and have support manuals that exceed a thousand pages of documentation to assist in the process.   They are true expertsI’ve discovered, however, that sometimes expertise can actually be a problem. Just because your expertise may arm you with the knowledge to recognize the solution to a problem or challenge, it doesn’t mean other people are going to automatically ‘believe’ you know the solution and/or want you to actually tell them the solution.  I know that sounds counter intuitive; however, if you’ve ever raised a child, you know that this is often times absolutely true!

So, let’s say you’re an expert.  You know you’re an expert.  You know that you can help someone else.  You also know that this “someone else” is a grownup who runs their own business or is an independent sales rep who chose their particular career for good reason . . . they like the freedom of being independent.  How do you move these people in the right direction?

I had a person who worked for my company who once went into one of my locations and was appalled by how badly things were being run by the members of the group.  She let them know in no uncertain terms what they were doing wrong and how they needed to turn it around. Her assessment of the situation and the solutions she proposed were spot on but her presentation of them was all wrong. She was so blunt with the group’s members that she received a very negative reaction from them and ended up leaving the place an even bigger mess than it was when she first walked in.  When I met with her to talk about how she might have done things differently, she grew furious with me for not supporting her since she was right and the members of the group were wrong.  I wasn’t arguing that she was right–she was.  The problem I had was how she handled the situation–in that area, she was completely wrong. I tried to explain this to her by sharing one of my favorite sayings relating to the dilemma:  “Don’t burn down the barn to roast the pig.” In other words, don’t make things worse than you found them when you were trying to fix them in the first place.

She could never really wrap her head around the concept that people may not welcome her advice with enthusiasm and agree with her stance on an issue when she was clearly right.  She didn’t work for me for much longer (make of that what you will) and, eventually, we got an expert to work with that group who ‘listened’ to their issues,  Built relationships with the group members, and then coached them into achieving the greatness they had within them.  It’s important to note that this process took time and patience.

There are two things I try to teach people in this situation.

First, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” If you want people to listen to you when you are coaching them or re-directing them, they have to know that you care about them and want them to succeed.  If they don’t know this down to their core – they will not listen to your advice.  Ever.

Second, is a saying given to me by mother on a paper weight when I was about 16 years old and I was running an uphill battle for a student council race.  My mother gave me this paper weight (which is still on my desk in my home to this date).  The paper weight says: Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” When she gave me that, she explained that I had to learn how to work “with” people – not “through” people.  She said that even if I did know the answer to a problem – it did no good if no one else believed me.  That advice helped me win the election and it has helped me many times throughout my life.  I have to admit that I don’t always use it as well as I can – however, when I do use it, things almost always go more smoothly.

The bottom line is this: being right doesn’t help much if no one is willing to follow you.

What are your thoughts on this issue?  Maybe you can share a story . . . but, remember to keep it positive.  Let’s focus on positive outcomes more than just horror stories.

15 thoughts on “Being Right But Doing It All Wrong!

  1. Ivan –
    You are so right! About a year ago I witnessed a very powerful exaple of how someone can ‘work with’others. An employee had been promoted to Manager status of a company that had roughly 50 people there. Her 6 years at the company gave her great insight. In an organization of 50 people, everyone know everyone and when a protion is available – everyone goes for it. Thankfully, she had some of the skills you mentioned. Rather then making immediate change for change sake – she employed a more thoughtful approach which involved everyone and gave them a chance to share their ideas. She’s been in her role now for just over a year and her department has made more advancement in this short time because of her ability to be diplomatic.

  2. Growth is a life long process. Being a coach myself, the #1 attribute I look for in a client is that they are willing to try new things (even if they don’t agree with me). Put your pride aside as an “expert.” Once you get too full of yourself and can’t be taught anymore, people stop listening to you because they don’t respect you.

  3. Ivan,
    Oh how right you are. Leading entrepreneurs and sales professionals….good luck with that! Is it possible…Yes. Easy….No. Difficult….only if not handled correctly.
    In the situation you spoke the approach was failed from the outset. It is one thing if you are trying “advise” a single entrepreneur or sales professional, when you are trying to tell a grou of them what to do….you will then create the Group Think Dynamic. This group think will be formed against you. Funny thing is, you are the one that got it started.
    Thank you for this article. Powerful, true to form and a great example of how we all can be working on our leadership and communication skills daily.

  4. Ivan,

    Almost five years ago, when I purchased a BNI franchise we walked into a hornets nest. But I immediately began using the approach you wrote about here and now I have what I consider one of the smallest, but one of the best regions in BNI. We have created a culture in this region that eats any strategy I could have used for breakfast. It seems I may have heard that somewhere…. Thanks Ivan!

  5. Thank you so much Mr.Misner,
    I have been in a BNI chapter for 6 months now and have been researching and learning as much as I can to make this investment work for me and my other referral partners.
    As I learn the most effective way for things to be done, For instance 1-2-1’s and identifying and working with your contact sphere, I try and share that information with others to help them. I am not always meet with the same enthusiasm that I have for the information.
    This article has helped me to think about my approach to sharing so that the others in my group can really benefit from the information. And then we all win.
    Thank you again so very much!!

  6. Thanks so much for the wisdom contained in this article. Knowledge can be intoxicsting to the point it dulls our senses, deafens and blinds us if we are not careful. This is a great reminder to truly listen instead of jumping to conclusions.

  7. I went to directors training and learned these concepts there and came back to apply them. It is true that until a chapter knows how much you care they don’t care how much you know. I went in with most of my chapters with this same approach and after a short period of time they listened. My average chapter size was in the low 20’s when I started and now it is at 31. This is truely allowing others to have your way. Givers Gain!

  8. Thanks so much for the wisdom contained in this article. Knowledge can be intoxicsting to the point it dulls our senses, deafens and blinds us if we are not careful. This is a great reminder to truly listen instead of jumping to conclusions.

  9. Thanks so much for the wisdom contained in this article. Knowledge can be intoxicsting to the point it dulls our senses, deafens and blinds us if we are not careful. This is a great reminder to truly listen instead of jumping to conclusions.

  10. UUmm yeah.
    This is the dilemma of being unconsciously competent.
    We get really good at our craft. In the process, we forget how we got here.
    So we have to retrace our footsteps to learn, un-learn and re-learn.
    Or as my mentor Marshall Goldsmith says, “What Got Me Here Will Not Get me There!”
    dr. jim sellner, PhD., DipC.

  11. I am a mentor, business development consultant and a BNI member and have been assigned to entrepreneurs who required funding or need help to get their businesses back on track. What you said that, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” is very true. This approach takes time because you have to build a trusting, caring and emphatic relationship with your client before you can get them to do the things you think are right for their businesses’ well being. Some of my counterparts believe that they are professionals and should be honest and straight forward with their clients. With their approach, they get resistance or are sometimes kicked out of the clients’ office. They believe that diplomacy is a sign of weakness and insincerity. I disagree! As a sales manager and entrepreneur I believe that, as a leader you have to use ‘diplomacy to dictate or be a dictator’ to get your ideas over to those who look to you for leadership. But I like your phrase, “Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” Mentor, Consultants and BNI Directors should use these approaches to successfully help their clients and simulate harmony and positive growth in there chapters. Great article!

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