"Because we've always done it that way!"



On December 1, 2018 a new book on leadership will hit the markets. IT'S MY BOOK, and am excited to share with you a snippet from The Other Side: Five Rules for Leading with Influence.

Influence is our capacity to cause people to think or to act differently. It’s our ability to create change in someone, to help a person to think at a higher level, to cause a person to stop doing some things and start doing other things. To do this, to cause change, the best influencers create feelings of uncomfortableness regarding where people are and encourages them to reach new heights.

If there is no need for change, then there is no need for leadership. If we are satisfied with the status quo, if the results we are getting are what we want, then there is no need for leadership, and you can simply ignore the Five Rules of Leading with Influence. If this sounds like you or your organization, I ask you to consider the following fable, inspired by the work of researcher G. R. Stephenson.

A group of scientists placed five monkeys into a large cage. High up at the top of the cage, well beyond the reach of the monkeys, the scientists hung a bunch of bananas. Underneath the bananas, they placed a ladder. The monkeys immediately spotted the bananas and one began to climb the ladder. As he did, a scientist would spray him with a stream of cold water. Then, the scientists would proceed to spray each of the other monkeys. Every time a monkey went up the ladder, the scientists soaked the monkeys with cold water. After a while, when a monkey would start up the ladder, the others would pull it down. Given some time, no monkey would dare start up the ladder, no matter how great the temptation. The scientists then decided to replace one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did was start to climb the ladder. Immediately, the others pulled him down. After several attempts, the new monkey learned never to go up the ladder, even though there was no evident reason not to. A second monkey was substituted, and the same thing occurred. The first replacement monkey even participated in pulling it down. A third monkey was changed, and the same was repeated. Again, a fourth and finally a fifth monkey were replaced with the same results. What was left was a group of five monkeys that—without ever having received a cold shower—continued to pull any monkey down who attempted to climb the ladder.

If we had the ability to ask the five replacement monkeys why they don’t go up the ladder to get the bananas, I’m afraid they would answer, “Because that is the way we’ve always done it.” Grace Hopper says, “The most damaging phrase in our language is: ‘It’s always been done that way.’” Influencers are agents of change. They are individuals who can help people see things differently. They provide the encouragement and support for them to change, to improve, and to get better. They are people who look up at the bananas and question, “Why?” The pioneer of our contemporary field of leadership development Warren Bennis states, “The basis of leadership is the capacity of the leader to change the mindset, the framework of the other person.” Most in the masses are quite satisfied with how things are. Or, they may be unsatisfied but unwilling to do anything about it. They go about living one day after the next, thinking that their life condition is the way it was supposed to be and that they just need to accept it. Once we’ve crossed to the other side, we don’t have the luxury of accepting the status quo. We can no longer sit around, complain, and hope that someone will hear us. No, we’ve now taken on the commitment to not only be dissatisfied with the status quo, but to do something about it.

Click Here to order The Other Side: Five Rules for Leading with Influence.

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