Sunday, October 14, 2007

Lovin' Your Enemies

Okay, maybe you don’t need to “love” your enemies. However, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, in their book “The Power of Nice,” do suggest that you “help your enemies.” I know this sounds a bit odd, and truthfully it did take me a while to grasp, but I do think they are on to something here.

See, my leadership class at Drake University spent last week reading “The Power of Nice.” It’s a very good read, especially when read right along side of “The No-Asshole Rule.” These are two very good books on how to lead, and how not to lead.

The Power of Nice does a good job of showing some real world examples of how various leaders have been able to gain respect, loyalty, and financial reward by going against traditional management techniques and instead employing a nice and compassionate game plan.

There were two chapters that really stood out to me. The first one, “Sweeten the Deal” explains how offering compliments, gifts, and humor can get you ahead in business and life. J. Erik Potter has a great post on this chapter, so I’ll let you check his site out!

The other chapter that really hit home for me was “Help Your Enemies.” Talk about an offbeat statement that not too many people would think of trying! Can you imagine if George Washington had decided to help the British? There would have been uproar among the Americans, not to mention a possible defeat in the Revolutionary War and a complete change to history as we know it. According to Linda and Robin, however, Washington did help his enemies by ordering his soldiers to treat the British prisoners with humanity. See, good ol’ George new that these prisoners may end up being the first citizens of the USA, and he wanted to make sure that “these adversaries would be tomorrow’s allies.”

I’m telling you, this idea is pretty interesting. Let’s dig into this even further. Why would you want to help your enemies (or rivals)? Wouldn’t that give them a leg up on you? Well, Linda Kaplan Thaler argues that you do it because cooperation beats out the competition. If that’s hard to believe, I suppose you could ask Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Apple and Microsoft have been in constant competition since the day they started on the job. These two would be considered definite rivals. I recently watched a cooperative interview with the two of them, and they both explained that although they are fierce competitors, they realized that they had to work together in order to better the personal computer and its software. In fact, Bill would go to Apple and work right along side of them to help better the Macintosh. It was an interesting interview that really showed a good example of how being nice to and helping your rivals can further you along in the world.

But, here’s the key! How do you employ the Power of Nice effectively? How do you keep these “nice” principles from getting you used and abused (your employees taking advantage of you)? If used effectively, can you build up your referent power? If not used effectively, do you remain an ineffective leader? For answers, you’ll have to read the book and come to your own conclusions. I would love to discuss the book some more, but unfortunately that would make this short story of a blog into a novel, and would probably ruin a great read for you. So, you’ll have to take my word for it that this is a must read!


Troy Worman said...

Great post. And great question. How do you go about being a ray of sunshine without getting shit on. This is the question.

Check out Kammie Kobyleski's recent post--Kayne West & Kick-Ass Friends Keepin' Me Real--at the power of love. KK's the total blam blam. A lot of good stuff there. Like here.

Eric Peterson said...

Thans Troy. Thanks for pointing me to Kammie's blog. She is definitely a very passionate writer.

Troy Worman said...

Eric, you haven't posted since 10/14. I hope all is well.

Eric Peterson said...

All is going good! I have posted quite a few times since 10/14. I've noticed on technorati that my posts will be there one day, and then gone the next. I'm not sure what's going on there.

Do you have any ideas? I'm very "green" when it comes to the technical stuff (i.e., feeds, rss, subscriptions, html), so I'm not sure if my posts are making it out to my readers or not? I hope so!

Thank you for checking in. I appreciate it!