That's what he said. Exactly what he said. I wrote it down.|
The occasion I witnessed was one in which the desperate CEO was
trying to impress on his organization the critical need to raise
revenue, deliver product and service faster, reduce costs, and
on and on. And indeed those needs were critical, no question about
it. I am sure he felt the weight of those challenges squarely on
his shoulders. And that's when he said it
I'm not here to make friends. Now there's a
motivating line if I've ever heard one. When you want the only
people who have even
a remote chance of saving your butt to come through for you, what
you do is say, "I'm not here to make friends..." and
then go on to ask them to deliver supernatural performance for
Between psychology and education, I have four degrees. Written
three books on leadership and teamwork. I've spoken on high performance
teamwork, customer service and leadership to corporations around
the world for thirty years. Unashamedly I tell you - I am one heck
of a motivating speaker. Yet, in one simple sentence this friendless
CEO reminded me that I can always learn something new about motivating
human beings. Let me share my learning with you, even though I am still working
it all through.
My first revelation came from imagining all
of his people emulating his behavior. I've always thought that
senior leaders are to be
models for those they lead: an example of devotion, enthusiasm,
effective communication, energy, determination, commitment to results
and even innovation. Shouldn't people be saying, "There goes
my leader, I want to be just like him or her?" Or have I spent
too much time in pressurized airplanes?
If I am right about that, we should expect managers in his organization
to not really care about team relationships either - they might
get too friendly. And forget any cross-departmental connections;
that would be taking things way too far to the friendly, personal
side. No manager should be there to make any friends, given that
consistency in management philosophy is paramount. Indeed, no one
should have friends, at least not in the work place.
Managers should begin annual Performance Reviews
not here to make friends
" And if you are into 360-degree
feedback, there should be no signs of friendship from any direction.
(Watch this column for my article titled: 360 degree Performance
Those values hung so righteously on the wall of the cafeteria? Let's add a
list of things we don't value - starting with friendship! It is time for us
to take a stand for what we don't believe in; though we should be careful
not to look like we are actually doing it in any unified or friendly way.
And certainly those who interface with the customer shouldn't even think of
entertaining any relationship that includes friendliness. No sir. We are to
be focused on increasing revenue, bettering productivity and service - we do
not have time for this bleeding heart, milk-toast, airy-fairy friendship stuff.
For example, every Call Center employee should be coached to use this phrase
in dealing with an upset customer: "Look, I am not here to make friends
earlier it is said in the conversation, the sooner they can get on to the next
customer call. We are talking about an efficiency breakthrough here! Over time
you won't even need a Call Center. Think of the savings! In summary, I had no idea that, in tough times, it is best for
leaders to be friendless.
My second eye-opening revelation really made this whole thing
very confusing, causing me tremendous emotional turmoil. It started
with my examining the alternatives to the one he proposed in that
simple statement. I did enough research in graduate school to know
that it is best to examine both the hypothesis and the null hypothesis.
On the null side it seems to me there is only one alternative,
but let me test it out on you because you are not as emotionally
Finish this sentence: I am not here to make friends, I am here
to make____________ . If you said "enemies" you have affirmed
my own thinking, and with relief I thank you.
In war movies, when the soldier on guard sees
someone coming out of the shadows toward the compound, he doesn't
point his rifle
and demand: "Halt! Friend, neutral person, or foe?" Of
course not! He knows that at the moment of most critical need,
at the moment of ultimate tension, there are two choices: you are
either a friend or you are the enemy. Neutral does not exist. If you are the one coming out of the darkness
to be questioned in this way, it is not wise to answer: "I have no feelings
one way or the other." I really do not think that response
will relax the situation.
It is this simple. In times of corporate stress and challenge,
employees are either a friend of the corporation (and its leader);
or they are an enemy to the corporation (and its leader). Take
some time to imagine which alternative is likely to gain you the
end result you so desperately need. Who is likely to say an encouraging word when so many forces seem
mounted against you? Friend or Enemy? Who will share the stress and burden with you and take the weight
from your shoulders? Friend or Enemy? Who is most likely to care passionately about the wise and prudent
use of resources, while simultaneously fighting against poor quality
in every dimension of your product or service? Friend or Enemy? Who is most likely to freely and joyfully give you their very
heart and soul so that together you can walk through the valley
and climb victoriously to the mountaintop? Friend or Enemy? Who will go the second and third mile in providing unparalleled
customer service? Friend or Enemy? When you are distracted by some obstinate detail and have your
back turned, which do you want standing behind you? Friend or Enemy?
Let me cut to the chase here. In my book The
7 Secrets to a Life of Meaning, I quoted world champion cowboy
Al Dunning who said, "Don't
count your friends when you are on top of the world. Count them
when the world is on top of you."There are many, many corporations out there today that have the
world on top of them. Some organizations have already suffocated.
Some are gasping for their last breath. And some feel the growing
pressure of the weight. Hear this: At that moment, you need all
the friends you can get! You'd better be here to make friends Mr.
or Ms Leader! That's the only chance you've got. Oh, I can hear the arguments from those who
fear friendship. "In
tough times you might have to make tough decisions!" Yeah?
Does that mean that making tough decisions is easier or more effective
if everyone dislikes you? Where does this convoluted thinking come
from? As an employee, would you prefer to be told some difficult news
by a beloved leader or by a leader you can barely stand and for
whom you have little personal regard? If you are going to be laid
off, whether because of your performance or not, would you prefer
to have that intervention come from a leader who truly wants the
best for you or from one who has declared he does not intend to
be your friend?
I've got to wrap this up - and you know - writing this out has
been helpful for me. I am coming down on the side of friendship.
No doubt about it. And the tougher the times, the more friendship
I want to have around me! Please, wherever you are reading this - raise your coffee mug
or water bottle and offer a silent toast to friendship. May you
always be surrounded by it!
The following quotation must be printed
at the conclusion of each reprinted article:
"Copyright The Ian Percy Corporation".
Ian Percy is one of North America's most inspirational speakers.
Ian Percy is an international speaker and
consultant and can be reached at www.ianpercy.com