A Powerful, Little Used Concept For Multiplying Your Productivity and Effectiveness

by  Leonard L. Given

The high technology professional—such as a product marketing manager, product manager, or account manager—is living in a world with ever increasing demands upon his time and energy. Simultaneously, with more competition and sometimes less revenue opportunities, he has to stand out from the crowd to get significant results. Because this type of individual is usually driven to accomplish and is self-motivated, he responds to this outside pressure by working harder and smarter.

This effort and innovation is admirable, but there is an even better or companion solution. It lies in the definition of a word that has been used often in the last couple of decades, and is often overused. That word is "Synergy." What does that mean? Well, most people would define it as being 1 + 1 =3. The dictionary says, "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts." Translated to human efforts, it means that if you work by yourself, using only your own efforts and innovation, you could accomplish 1X. If I work by myself using my own efforts and innovation, I could accomplish 1X. However, if we could work together, combine our ideas and innovation, we could accomplish 3X . . . or 5X . . . or 10X with the same effort. Who wouldn't want to get 3 times to 10 times the return on their efforts than they have been used to?

The exciting thing is that this concept is not just a touchy-feely fad that produces little. It is real! When you think about it, no one has all of the talents necessary for greatness. With the combination of talents from several people much can happen. In decades of watching people work and engaging in my own experiments with "Synergy" I know it does produce the promised results. But, it is not easy to implement and maintain.

Your Ego—A Major Handicap

You are probably good at what you do and that is why you have been successful in your job assignment. Sometimes what accompanies that success is either an exaggerated sense of your own value in relationship to others . . . and/or a lowered ability to recognize the talents and ability of others. Each of us is literally surrounded by a sea of talent that could be activated and combined with our own talents to significantly enhance the results we produce. But, we have to recognize and act on it.

The synergistic professional or manager needs to look around her and observe the talents of those that could be members of her informal team. When she becomes good at this she will likely be amazed at what she sees—talents different from hers, but just as good, and lots of them. If they were combined with her (different) talents, the power of her informal team could be awesome.

To tap this talent she is going to have to subordinate her own ego. She is going to have to find ways to stimulate the people with those talents to "buy-in" to her goals and commit some portion of their energies contributing to her goals while she contributes to theirs. That means there has to be a payoff for them. While this will be different from individual to individual, it usually means a payoff in terms of power, financial reward, recognition, or a synergistic effect on their other personal goals. Find that payoff and use it to enlist them into your informal team.

This is not just a game of sales or persuasion. It is a sincere recognition of the other person's talents and abilities. It means stepping back from power and control and letting that person shine. Let them take credit for outcomes in which they had a part—you will also win. And guess what, you will also grow because now you will have a new talent that helps others to expand.

Raw Leadership Is The Ingredient

In addition to joining your informal team because of a recognized personal payoff, other people over whom you have no control, move your direction because of the leadership you exhibit. Leadership has been closely studied for the past two to three decades and several studies have clearly pointed out the characteristics of a person others admire and follow because of exhibited leadership. Two of the most respected research teams on the subject are Warren Benis/Bert Nanus and James Kouzas/Barry Posner. While they used different words to describe leadership characteristics, each team's research discovered pretty much the same thing. To paraphrase their work, the characteristics involve:

  • crystallizing a lofty vision of what you wish to accomplish and passionately embracing it. For example, a product manager might see the expansion of her product family into a position of prominence in the market due to an exceptional fit to customer needs. A strategic account manager might envision a level of partnering with his account that results in a new market position for the customer and a tripling of his company's anticipated sales over the next 3 years.

  • communicating that vision in a manner that others feel the passion and accept the vision as one of their own goals. Behind this is strong conviction and commitment on the part of the leader and a willingness to show that passion to others.

  • recognizing the talents of others (does that sound familiar) and creating an environment that allows that talent to become operative in relationship to the vision. As a product manager, you might ask for the establishment of a Product Life Cycle committee and invite a highly experienced application engineer, who understands the customer's world extremely well, to join you at that customer's site to gather data for a market requirement statement. But . . you have to figuratively get out of the way to let her help surface the customer's needs.

  • reward and motivate the members of your informal team regularly. For most people who truly develop a vision, the road to accomplishing that vision is long. It is easy for other people to lose sight of the vision over time and to lose their motivation. Keep them motivated by complementing them in front of others when they make little successes that are milestones along the way. Sincerely appreciate their talented contributions and let them know that you do.

  • Become a model of the behavior you would like to see in members of your informal team. In contemporary lingo that means. "walk the talk."

What's In It For You

Boy, do I have a deal for you!!! How would you like to achieve more than you ever believed you could and at the same time

  • reduce the outside pressure you are getting;

  • increase the level of respect you receive from your supervisor and peers;

  • find substantial more free time; and

  • expand and grow in your self-confidence and abilities?

Do I have any takers? Synergy is available. All you have to do is act.

‹‹ Leonard L. Given
[About the Author]

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