Knowing What Makes Your Team Tick

“Give me a place to stand and I shall move the whole earth with a lever,” said the great Greek mathematician Archimedes, who is famed for saying “Eureka’’ after one of his great scientific discoveries.

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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 Ohre, an American football offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, is having trouble at training. He has the goods – he played college football for the University of Mississippi but he is lacking that special motivation.

His mother, knowing him all too well, describes his football team as a family and tells him it is his job to protect his family. Once he has that clear image in his mind, no one is getting past his whopping 1.93cm, 140kg frame. No one!

We are all a little like Michael Oher. We have lots of potential, but sometimes we are waiting 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 decision are made from an emotive base. Stanford University is using complex brain imaging to study how humans make shopping decisions, and are finding that emotions play a large role in everyday purchases.

We use logic to justify those decisions but whether it is 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 his every decision based on what his 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 leaver we can move the world.

The reality is that this process takes time. A good rule with dealing with people is fast is slow, and slow is fast. Being purely efficient does not work when people are managing people. If we treat people like machines then it 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!

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