I was a novice sales manager, way back, when I realised this. Our business was growing rapidly, and we had carefully screened and recruited five new sales consultants. At our induction program I shared with our new team members how thorough we had been in our selection of them. They were carefully trained, went back to their home towns and began to set the world alight. They were magnificent, excelling in every way, beyond even our expectations.
A few years later, celebrating their success and our continuing prosperity, I asked one of them what they thought their key success driver had been. He said the five of them had discussed this themselves, and came to the firm conclusion that it was my words at the beginning of their training. Because I had told them with absolute sincerity that we had gone through about 200 candidates to find them, that they were particularly suited to this work and our business, that they possessed within them already the blueprint for success – they simply took it for granted that they would be superbly successful if they followed our proven performance formats. They did, and they were.
I have seen the same thing many times since, in my professional life and in my personal life. And in the way I respond myself. So now it’s my First Law of Leadership.
The Pygmalion Effect is well documented. Whatever you can see in someone will determine how you treat them and how you relate to them – you can’t hide your real feelings and beliefs.
When you treat them as heroes-in-waiting, they will almost always live up to that. And when you criticise and nag, the negative impact is also inevitable.
A wise 16 yr old guest speaker once told us that ‘people might not be as good as you tell them they are, but they’ll try hard to be afterwards.’
I’m not advocating false praise. I’m saying – look for the good, find the gold, show it to them, help them polish it and wear it proudly, and watch them shine!
And for yourself, the most important audience you’ll ever have, the importance is even greater. You can only ever perform up to the level of belief in yourself. Just know how magnificent you really are – the rest becomes EASY!
Have you seen this work in your world?