The great Greek mathematician Archimedes reputedly said, “Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the whole earth with a lever.
In leading a team, that all-important lever is emotion, and if you want to move your team, you must understand what makes them tick. In the film, The Blind Side, the hero, Michael Oher, an NFL football offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, is having trouble with training. He has the goods—he played college football for the University of Mississippi—but he is lacking that special motivation. His adoptive mother, knowing him all too well, describes his football team as a family and tells him it’s his job to protect his family. Once he has that clear image in his mind, no one is getting past his whopping 1.93 cm, 140 kg frame. No one!
We are all a little like Michael Oher. We have lots of potential, but sometimes we wait for something or someone to ignite that fire in our bellies. Once we know why, then the how is easy. It has been said that many decisions are made from an emotive base. Stanford University is using complex brain imaging to study how people make shopping decisions, and they are finding that emotions play a large role in everyday purchases. We use logic to justify those decisions, but whether it’s a high-end car or a set of Callaway golf clubs, emotions play an equally important deciding factor.
What does this mean in a pharma business sense? Aren’t the physicians prescribing purely on science? Isn’t the product manager working his tail off because he wants to get ahead? Isn’t the country manager basing every decision on what is best for the shareholder? Maybe they are. Dale Carnegie said that everything people do is motivated by a feeling of importance. “No, no, no, I’m different,’’ some may cry. “I’m a logical, street-smart, hardened international pharmaceutical executive. I don’t have time for that stuff, and I’ve got to get this product launched.’’
To move and inspire others, we need to understand what moves our teams. What is important to them? What do they get excited about? What inspires them? The good news is that this emotion is like the leverage that old Greek genius talked about, and with a big enough lever, we too, can move the world.
The reality is that this process takes time. A good rule when dealing with people is “fast is slow, and slow is fast.” Being purely efficient doesn’t work when people are managing people. Treating people like machines is a recipe for disaster. Getting to know your team happens one lunch, one coffee, and one chat at a time. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And then . . . eureka!