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Timeless Principle #1 - Quit focusing on the outward appearance and concentrate on what’s on the inside

Last week I mentioned 12 simple (but not simplistic) management principles.  I thought we'd take time to review each one in depth.

Nav_ff_logoOne of my favorite TV shows is Fear Factor. If you’re not familiar with this program, contestants compete in a series of stunts designed to play off their greatest fears. There’s usually a “height” stunt, a “water” stunt, and then of course the “eating” stunt – which is my personal favorite. Contestants are shown an apparently harmless, tasty-looking treat only to be informed that it’s crawling with roaches or worms or something equally disgusting on the inside, and of course they have to eat it. If you watch Fear Factor enough, you know not to judge the stunt on the outward appearance.

So why do we do that on a regular basis with people in our lives? Our tendency is to operate on the surface level with others, making judgments on what we see rather than who they are. We look at someone’s background, education level, experiences, and body language and make a conscious choice with that data to treat them one way or another. It’s a fancy statement for stereotyping isn’t it? Even the more savvy of us try to group individuals together with personality assessments and indicators hoping to better understand others, but simply do the same thing.

So what’s the answer?

Get to know individuals individually. There are no two human beings that are totally identical. Geneticists say that the probability of finding your EXACT double is 2 x 10 32. In other words, you’ll never find it. Each individual has unique needs, wants, motivations, personalities, values, experiences, and gifts. We can’t discern those from the outward appearance any more than we can figure out what disgusting creatures are squirming inside of the food on Fear Factor.

Take the time to talk to your people. Allow them to tell their story. Learn to appreciate their unique gifts. Find out what motivates them both extrinsically and intrinsically. You might be surprised at what wonderful, talented people you have working for you.

Anyone can judge on the outward appearance. Differentiate yourself here and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a great manager and leader.

These principles are the focus of my latest book entitled 12 Simple (but not simplistic) Principles Every Manager Needs to know.  Check it out at www.12simpleprinciples.com!

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