Cicero and the Progressive Manager


“If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words.”

Cicero – Roman statesman

Hat tip to Steve Roesler.

Let’s get this straight from the start.  In my book persuading DOES NOT involve influencing employees to do something that is not in their best interest.  It involves helping them to see why the action proposed IS in their best interest.  Or to create a plan that we can all see the upsides from.

Thinking their thoughts

How do things look from their personal perspective – REALLY?  Have they worked in the organisation for 10 years and never made a promotion?  Are they more interested in the week-end than the working week?  Let’s try to be honest with ourselves about the thinking that our latest ideas might trigger.

Feeling their feelings

What do they really care about?  What matters most to them?  How do they feel about what matters?  Optimistic?  Resigned?  Detached?  Hopeful, fearful? DO they feel like they have to keep their head down and play it safe, or are they up for taking some risks in pursuit of greatness.  Are they comfortable in the bureaucratic comfort zone or do they prefer the white water of the entrepreneurial mindset.

Speak their words

Are your words clear and unequivocal – or are they weasel words – designed to create an illusion of clear communication?  Do you speak direclty to them clear about your own self interest and really prepared to re-negotiate it as they communicate reservations, concerns, hopes and desires?  Are you speaking their language?  If they are talking about fear of redundancy are you talking to those fears – honestly?

Connect or Collude

Do you really want to establish an honest connection or to collude in a pretense of communication that enable everyone to duck the real issue – ignore the 900lb gorillas?  Do you want to connect human to human or ‘work mask to work mask’? Do you want to communicate clearly what you stand for and what your best thinking is?  Are you really interested in their interests – or do you just want quiet compliance?

If the answer to the connection question is yes, human to human, naming the real issues, clear and powerful communication, honestly negotiating self interests then you are ready to communicate.  Face to face, up close and personal you will come across as caring, compassionate, honest (and if your thinking is good) capable.  Even if your thinking is not so great you are likely to elicit information that will help you to take it forward.

If on the other hand you would prefer the masks to stay on, to keep playing the management game the face to face is not going to work so well.

Your lack of commitment will ooze from every pore.

Your lack of compassion and clarity will be clear.

You will be filed in the ‘just another bureacrat’ drawer.

Mediocrity will prevail.

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