12 Most Timeless Principles for Bringing Out the Best in People

12 Most Timeless Principles for Bringing Out the Best in People

No matter what you do, people are involved. How to interact, to lead and to motivate is an ongoing challenge. In short, what can you do to bring out the best in people?

Over 25 years ago, Alan Loy McGinnis, wrote a book to teach people how to do exactly that. Though technology has changed much in the way we do business, people are the same. Thus, the principles in his book “Bringing out the Best in People” still apply. Following are his 12 principles along with comments and quote.

1. Expect the best from people you lead

Though it may seem obvious, it’s not always the reality. There is a high degree of correlation between what we expect people to do and what they do. From the Pgymalion effect to classroom experiments, examples abound of what happens when we expect the best of people Goethe said:

“Treat a man as he appears to be, and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.”

2. Make a thorough study of the other person’s needs

How do you do this? Ask questions. Don’t assume, find out what matters to each individual. Think of a motivational plan as a designer dress or a custom fitted suit; both are tailored for the individual. Find out where they have been, where they are going, what’s important to them as well as any sore spots. Or, as Zig Ziglar is famous for saying:

“You can get everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

3. Establish High Standards for Excellence

Those who succeed know the pleasure of setting high standards and living up them. What that belief system for excellence is varies from company to company—it may be innovation, quality or a number of other measures. A strong leader is necessary to develop the culture and create it as the norm. Those who do not buy into it, will leave. The late John W. Gardner, leader, author, speaker and Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare said:

“The best kept secret in America today is that people would rather work hard for something they believe in than enjoy a pampered idleness.”

4. Create an environment where failure is not fatal

People who learn that mistakes or failures are only temporary, are the ones who go on to do great things. Anyone who has ever achieved anything of significance, no doubt made countless mistakes along the way. Indeed, those people who can openly show they risked, failed and then started anew are examples to us all. A very successful businessman I know always says: “Fail forward fast.” The late Charles Kettering, inventor of Delco, head of research for General Motors and holder of 140 patents, wisely said:

“The chief job of the educator is to teach people how to fail intelligently.”

5. If they are going anywhere near where you want to go, climb on other people’s bandwagons

Whether you are talking about parents and children, psychologists and patients or salespeople and their clients, it is far more effective if the person thinks it is their idea. What people say, they believe. If you know clearly what your goals are, then you can more easily find people with whom to work to realize mutual goals. American President Harry Truman put it this way:

“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it”

6. Employ models to encourage success

Be it a stirring story of triumph over adversity or a real life “tortoise and hare” success story, we relate, we respond and are motivated when we hear such stories. Rags to riches stories speak to each of us so tell them, use them. Whether or not you are a fan of Apple products, Steve Jobs is an inspiration and an example taking Apple from near bankruptcy 13 years ago to the most valuable publicly traded company today. Back in the late 1700s, philosopher, orator, author and Irish statesman Edmund Burke was right when he said:

“Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.”

7. Recognize and applaud achievement

Acknowledge a person’s effort for a task; be specific in your praise. Rather than say “you’re doing great” say “you’re doing great because you take such consistent action or you help people to understand why they need to ______” Ken Blanchard, “The One Minute Manager” recommends catching people doing “something right” and then giving them an immediate compliment. English cleric and writer C.C. Colton said:

“Applause is the spur of noble minds.”

8. Employ a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement

Though some positive thinkers believe the only way to motivate people to produce is by positive reinforcement, this simply isn’t true. To illustrate this, here’s an interesting story about the late Coach John Wooden. During the 1974-1975 season, two psychologists watched 15 of his practices sessions. What they found surprised them; he used negative statements, or scolded them, twice as much as he praised them. However, it was the way he did it that made such a difference in his teams and the lasting relationships he forged with individual players. He used the scold/instruction method. In other words, he told them what not to do and then told them what to do. Know when to praise and when to reprimand. Nobel prize winner Pearl S. Buck explains it this way:

“Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together.”

9. Appeal sparingly to the competitive urge

It seems that inherent in each of us there is a desire to compete. Evidence abounds that we love to play “games” and win. When there is a balance of cooperation and competition it is a win-win situation for all. When taken to excess, people feel manipulated, stab each other in the back, become angry and it becomes destructive rather than productive. The same thing holds true with comparisons; there’s a fine line between using them to criticize or to inspire. Author Burt Struthers says this about the will to win:

“People are failures, not because they are stupid, but because they are not sufficiently impassioned.”

10. Place a premium on collaboration

Inherent in each of us is a need to belong. Most of us work best when teamed with at least one other person whether it’s on a project or to lose weight. What happens when we work as a group or team is that our resolve strengthens and the support of the group gives the momentum to break through obstacles. The late U.S. Senator S.I. Hayakawa stated:

“What we call society is really a vast network of mutual agreements.”

11. Build into the group an allowance for storms

Learning to work with difficult people is essential to success. The more successful a person is, the more people will resent them and their power. Allow for the differences in people, for inexplicable behavior, disruptive behavior and know ahead of time how you will deal with each.. Open communication and expecting the best in others go a long way to diffusing potentially volatile situations and troublemakers. Benjamin Franklin offered this sage advice:

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

12. Take steps to keep your own motivation high

What is it about certain people that enable them to lead, to inspire others? History shows it’s not a matter of looks, education or talent. Some call it charisma while others call it obsessiveness or enthusiasm. No doubt about it, “enthusiasm is contagious.” It grabs attention and compels action. To keep yourself up and brimming with energy, with enthusiasm, associate with positive people, monitor your self talk, feed your mind and focus on your goals. Neurosurgeon and pioneer of brain surgery Dr. Harvey Cushing believed:

“Nothing great or new can be done without enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the fly-wheel which carriers your saw through the knots in the log. A certain excessiveness seems a necessary element in all greatness.”

Have you either heard of or read “Bringing Out the Best in People?”

Which one of these principles spoke to you?

What other tips do you have for bringing out the best in people?

Janet Callaway

http://www.janetcallaway.com

As a Network Marketing & Social Media Coach, I am passionately involved with teaching people how to build thriving online Global businesses. Whether people want to earn a few hundred dollars extra a month or multiple six figures a year, I provide strategies & practical “how to” solutions including the use social media & networking to help them achieve those goals. It is my belief that everyone should design the life they want and live it. To be able to mentor people to success and help them achieve what is important to them, matters to me.

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47 comments
Rault
Rault

I love your thoughts, I work with children so I know you need to compliment them the moment they do something good. Warms my heart to see their smiles!

lizwebercmc
lizwebercmc

@12Most It's great advice for my clients: #leaders

dbvickery
dbvickery

These need to be like Successories sayings that are scattered out around an organization that is serious about bringing out the best in their people!

dabarlow
dabarlow

Janet, Thank You for this outstanding post! Is making me think about current & past experiences with bosses/leaders/coworkers/teams/family. #3, 4, & 5 spoke to me the most. This post has inspired me to see if I can find "Bring Out The Best In People" to read!

shawmu
shawmu

Janet, you were truly inspired when writing this post. I'm new to reading your stuff, but will be looking forward to your next post.

AngelaFaith
AngelaFaith

Wonderful article, Thank you for sharing.

Samantha Bangayan
Samantha Bangayan

Wow, @janetcallaway ! This is such a thorough post! I really loved all 12 of your points and many of them struck a chord with me as they are what I learned firsthand working with rural families here in Peru, such as expecting the best of others, truly understanding their needs, recognizing achievement and employing reinforcement in different ways.Reading through your post has helped me realize how much *we* have to do with how our relationships turn out. There's a lot of pointing fingers when it comes to relationships, whether in companies or in personal lives, when the truth is that we have a lot of influence in how those relationships turn out. Climbing on other people's bandwagons is a great example -- this practice helps us all be independent and self-confident, which makes a difference in the community.Absolutely loved this post, Janet! =) Thanks again for making me think! =)

SarahScuba
SarahScuba

@fierce_living I saw that too! Heartbreaking that people live in fear and end up committing such horrendous crimes :-(

BrandFlair
BrandFlair

Fantastic post Janet. Great one to broadcast out to my networks as everyone could learn from this. Keep the epic content coming!

livelovework
livelovework

Wow wow wow, Janet! This may be my favorite post from you yet- and that's really saying something.

You have absolutely and completely captured 12 great principles for bringing out the best in others. If I could I've give this to every leader I meet. I honestly can't even pick a favorite of these tips as they are all so valuable. I'm going to bookmark this and come back to it often, I suspect.

Chrysta

KDillabough
KDillabough

Janet, there is so much value packed into this post, it's hard to know where to start.

I really like #4 because we actually learn from our mistakes far more than from the things we do well. I always say: Make mistakes. But make that particular mistake only once. Repeating the same mistakes over and over means no learning happened. Making a mistake and learning from it means the opportunity to do things better and differently the next time.

I LOVE the Harry Truman quote, and re:#8...I could go on and on about positive and negative reinforcement, or operant conditioning, since that forms a strong basis of the work I did with elite and Olympic athletes. Suffice to say there's an art and a science to how to apply reinforcement. I will say: recognized behavior gets repeated...rewarded behavior gets repeated.

Such a great post Janet! Cheers! Kaarina

tedcoine
tedcoine

Janet, I loved this post - and what great quotes to wrap up each point! My two favorites are 3 & 4: Establish high standards of excellence and Create an environment where failure is not fatal. Both are absolutely vital to the success of any endeavor, individual or team. Bravo!

profkrg
profkrg

Excellent post! I agree strongly with No. 1 and No. 3. People will reach the level you expect from them. It's important that you also function at that level. I really enjoyed reading this.

stjohnmarketing
stjohnmarketing

#6 - There is nothing more powerful than a great illustration. This is as true in leadership as it is in public speaking. Thanks for the reminder.

Yogizilla
Yogizilla

Gosh, where do I even start here...

I love all of this because we need more leaders in the world and less managers. 4, 5, 7, and 10 may be my favorite keys to a life of fulfillment and contentment, if I had to choose.

First and foremost, we need to help those we care about and admire get past the fear that we have been conditioned with and have engrained deep within us. Failure is healthy so long as you don't give up. If you fail often, it means you're being persistent, whereas others may not do anything at all or just play it safe.

Item #5 reminds me of something I've learned the hard way leading groups of various sizes and types. You can't force people to go somewhere they don't want to go, no matter how compelling your reasons and intentions may be. It's much easier to compromise than to convince.. Eventually, when others see your example, they will reciprocate.

Applaud achievement.

We don't have enough of this. Again, it goes back to our culture. Mistakes are thrown in our faces but rarely do we get a pat on the back. Now, we should not seek such affirmation but who DOESN'T like that? To know that someone is paying attention and our roles in life are not always thankless is an empowering feeling, to say the very least.

Collaboration.

By golly that is HUGE. You can't shoulder the burden of leadership alone. Groom others to do what you can do. Share the wealth, I say!

This entire article is amazing. I'm sharing it with my StumbleUpon network and I think I will print it out to keep it handy. I feel personal development is a MUST for anyone that considers themselves a life-long student and achiever.

This is where the last two pearls of wisdom come into play. When you focus on the soft skills that most overlook and build strong relationships, you can weather any storm because it's not if adversity will strike but, rather, WHEN.

The motivation has to start from within by focusing on a strong mission or sense of purpose. Set the example so others will follow. Keep each other engaged so that, on those not-so-good days, you always have people to help the others up as they lag behind. That is crucial.

Thanks for sharing this with me, Janet - you're always an inspiration!

marianne.worley
marianne.worley

I've always found that expecting the best from people motivates them to do amazing work. For example, during my career, I've worked with a lot of graphic designers on a variety of projects. Instead of saying exactly what I wanted a design to look like, I'd say: "Here are the goals of this piece. You're a talented designer and I have full confidence that you'll create something that meets those goals." When you give people responsibility, they take it and work hard to live up to it.

Excellent post Janet. Good motivation for a Monday!

WordsDoneWrite
WordsDoneWrite

Great advice, Janet! As someone who has managed internal communications for some big companies, I know the importance of culture.

All these items go so far in creating a positive environment for employees that engages, motivates, inspires, and energizes the people who make a business what it is! If department heads used at least half of these techniques, there's no doubt in my mind that it would result in increased performance and improved morale!

ChristianHolli
ChristianHolli

I think the great focus and takeaway I receive from this post is the "study of people's needs." I think that's a great thing to remember. I don't remember it enough.

Ask those questions! Love that. Get to know the person like you would anyone else, and you'll quickly find that you're well on your way to bringing out the best in someone. What I love about bringing out the best in people is not only do you bring it out in them - but often it's returned. The best is brought out in SELF as you focus on others.

AdrienneSmith
AdrienneSmith

Really great post Janet as all of yours are my friend.

I've never heard of this book but I have heard of almost all of these principles. Although a lot of them really speak to me, I'm going to go with #1 and #4. Probably things I've learned over again these past four years so they really have stuck with me more. Big big big motivators for me.

Great list though I must say. Now I'm kind of interested in reading the book! :-)

Adrienne

CASUDI
CASUDI

This is the best :-) of the best ! #10 and #12 are two I prioritize & very important to me.

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