Playing the Game

I’m not a big TV guy.  However, on occasion, I have followed some of the TV show “Survivor” seasons.  I think the draw for me is the struggle with the environment more than the personalities.  Dealing with a deserted island or braving the harsh environment is more appealing than the chatter, deceit and alliances.

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One thing that has intrigued me about the show is how they refer to the struggle of competing and surviving as “playing the game”.  From my vantage it seems like more than a game.  Trying to survive in a desolated area, hungry, thirsty, doesn’t seem like a game to me.  I know- Hollywood is always there to rush in and save you if it gets too real!

So what is playing the game?  How do you win at Survivor?  You win by manipulation.

You know what you want.

You know how to get others to respond so you can get it.

You put the wheels in motion.

You get what you want!

Remember the great and powerful OZ?  The man on the levers behind the curtain?  This is how some view leadership.  You have the position and power and you know how to influence others to get you what you want.  I wish I could tell you otherwise, but this strategy often works.

And it’s a shame.  You can play with their heads.  You can apply pressure.  You can grab the levers.  The difference is that you will likely get what you want- but nothing more.

The real difference is found when you get more than you could imagine.  Much more than you thought possible.  How does this happen?

Rather than manipulate you inspire.  You loosen the reins and give your team the power to run.  The power to innovate.  The power to let those who do the work determine how is best to accomplish the task.

Inspiration is not intuitive.  We default to defining, controlling, manipulating.  Fear, tradition, and resistance to change will hold you back.  To inspire you need to model the behavior.  You need to believe in what you are doing.  You need to paint the picture for your group. You need to excite your group to march with you and you must march with them.

So what’s holding you back?  Are you stuck in default mode?  Are you ready to inspire rather than manipulate?  Here are some keys:

Define the goal:  Provide a clear understanding of the goal that you are trying to accomplish.  Why are you striving to make this happen?  What is the ultimate purpose of all of the work?

Personalize it:  Define the rewards for those who participate in the success.  What will I receive if we make this happen?  What is my piece of the pie?

Add milestones:  Give some intermediate goals to show progress.  This is the same reason you see landings on stairs.  A spot to rest and reflect for a minute.  A place to measure just how far you have come.

Unleash creativity:  Provide an environment where creativity is encouraged.  Let go of the wheel and let the team members determine how they will solve problems to reach success.

Celebrate accomplishments:  Have a victory celebration when you reach success.  Give credit to those who made it happen.  Acknowledge the efforts of your team and the roles that each played in the success of the project.  Give the credit to those who actually performed the work.

Inspiration provides an environment for exponential growth opportunities.  Are you taking full advantage of this power?  Or are you stuck in the command and control management style?  Maybe it’s time for you to step away from the levers?  Give inspiration a try.  It’s much better that way!

What do you think?  Do you know any manipulators who get away with it?  Don’t be a stealth reader!  Click on “leave a comment” and tell me what you think!