As a human being, we are not rational creatures. We assume that beautiful people are smarter and kinder than other people, just based on their looks. Thus, if we can understand these irrational biases then we can sometimes take advantage of these influences in order to improve our leadership style. With my experience, I have created few golden rules, which will help you to take advantage of these biases to become a better leader.
Make friends at work: I have seen many people, who believe that making friends at work is not a good idea. But I think, they are missing out on a big picture. Do you really want to work 40 hours/week at a place where you can’t even have a normal conversation with your coworkers? Making friends at work will make your work life enjoyable. Also, research shows that we are more likely to say yes to people we know and like. Thus, if you can get your coworkers to like you then they are more likely to follow your lead and direction.
Convince others with social examples: Generally, people want to feel that their thoughts and actions are compatible with others and are compliant to social norms. Thus, they normally look for social proof about any concept or a project. As a leader, you can take advantage of this bias by pointing out examples of successful projects that are similar to the project/proposal that you are proposing. Once you get few people leaning towards your direction, it’s difficult for other people to oppose that direction because of the power of social proof.
Ask for help instead of money: Normally, people are conditioned to reciprocate gifts, favors, and considerations. If they don’t reciprocate, they risk being disliked by others, so reciprocation is related to social proof. It also works other way around. If you ask someone for a favor, and if they grant it, they will feel kindlier toward you and will be more likely to say yes to you in the future. Thus, always present your ideas as – ‘idea under construction’ in front of your superiors or stakeholders, and then ask them for help to make it a solid idea. I bet you that people will see the same idea differently, if you went to them asking ‘help’ instead of ‘funding’.
I hope these tips will prove to be helpful in making the best use of human psychology to become a better leader. If you know any other ways to take advantage of human psychology to become a vibrant leader then please feel free to share it with me. I am always looking for people’s feedback to improve my knowledge. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi
September 12, 2011 at 7:45 AM
I wholeheartedly agree with your first point Bhavin! Who wants to spend a full third of their life in a place with no true friends? What about when your day is going badly quickly? Perhaps a dose of friendship can make the difference between a productive afternoon and an apathetic one!
September 12, 2011 at 11:58 AM
@Christian – Thanks for your comment. And yeah! I think that it is really important that you make friends at work, and love what you do. Sometimes, you get motivated through positive energy of someone, who you might know at work. Also, research shows that 40% of the employees get re-energized just by talking to their coworkers :). And if this gives you an added advantage over others due to these relationships, then nothing wrong about it. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi