Have you lost a vote?


“Mr President, you have bigger problems than losing me.  You’ve just lost my vote.” – Annette Bening from “The American President”

This is a telling quote from the movie, where the US president, played by Michael Douglas, is a single parent and widower.  He starts a relationship with a lobbyist, played by Annette Bening, and as the story unfolds he ends up having to make a choice – keep his word to his girlfriend and her lobby, or allow himself to be manipulated into a compromise deal which torpedoes her efforts.  He makes a call to go with the so-called greater good, and allows manipulation to gain the upper hand.  Her campaign is sacrificed, and when he tries to save their relationship, she says the words above.  She makes it clear that the relationship is less of an issue than the huge breach in trust that has occurred.  Respect for the president is lost.

The people that follow us, either formally or informally, have inherently placed their trust in us.  No matter what good we have done in the past, or what challenges we have overcome, each new challenge or decision will reveal our character to those people.  We never stop earning their trust and respect.  And it is only when we have their trust and respect that we can influence their thinking.  Let me demonstrate with a quick test. If somebody gives you feedback that you need to put a greater effort into your work, do you:

a)  Accept it as true

b)  Reject it as false

c)  Accept or reject based on who the feedback is coming from

I’m guessing most of you would choose c.  If it’s a trusted individual, we are more likely to listen to what they have to say.

So what happens when we allow manipulation and justify it for whatever reason?  We have revealed to our people that we are less than 100% trustworthy, which ever so subtly changes how they view us.  Whereas before they would unerringly do what we require, they now second-guess and wonder what the angle is.  And in so doing the effectiveness of our leadership is diminished.  If we then don’t recover from it and perhaps even continue the trend, it isn’t long before we have lost all credibility, and just like in the test above, our advice or instructions are rejected.

There is a story that talks about a new recruit in a firm.  The phone rings and the new recruit answers.  The caller wants to speak with the CEO.  The CEO tells the young recruit to tell the caller that she is out of the office.  The recruit however, puts the caller through to the CEO.  After the call the CEO, furious, goes to the recruit and asks why he had disobeyed her instructions.  “Because” said the recruit “if I can lie for you, I can also lie to you.”

The CEO might have gone away annoyed, but the message would have been very clear that this remarkable person not only could be trusted not to lie, but also that he was not afraid to speak up when it was necessary, and that would be more beneficial in the long run.

Have you lost someone’s vote recently?  What can you do about it?

Finances often manipulate many of us, because they are necessary.  But if they have been too influential in your thinking, this year’s Live2Lead conference in October features Dave Ramsay, who has helped people succeed in mastering their finances for a few decades! More information at www.live2lead-capetown.co.za.


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