The PROVE Acrostic

prove itSource: Bill Richardson, International Consultant and Trainer

Context:

This acrostic is a powerful reminder to leaders that they actually are buyers of commitment from their followers. With followers, while they typically don’t realize it, they are actually selling this very powerful commodity referred to as commitment. Commitment actually means full engagement with no turning back no matter what. Unfortunately, because a large number of leaders behave in non-supportive or inauthentic ways that creates doubt in their employee’s mind about their real intent, the employee only provides their compliance. While this compliance may appear valuable, it typically lacks full-fledged application of their brain power, perspiration and most importantly what I call their discretionary emotional energy aka passion. This acrostic will help leaders appreciate the value of team commitment to building collaborative capital in the organization and remind them of the importance of their stewardship role in taking proper care of the commitment entrusted to them.

PROVE

Promise:

Main Idea: Your brand is your unique promise of value delivery! If you have established a reputation in the organization or community as someone whose intent is worthy of support people will very quickly entrust their discretionary emotional energy aka commitment to you.  If however they do not know about you and the three key elements of your personal brand, i.e.  1) what are you known for, 2) what do you stand for, and 3) what are you capable of becoming, then they will only start off with providing  their compliance. They will be constantly assessing your intent, to ascertain whether you are authentically focused on what is best for the team and the organization. How this process works is contained in the remaining letters of this acrostic – Reach, Objectivity, Validation and Energy. By growing, protecting and promoting their personal brand, leaders can tap into team member commitment much sooner.

Reach:

Main Idea: Multiply versus diminish! This factor in earning the right to influence revolves around the difference between two mindsets. The first is the leader mindset that “I am the smartest” because they perhaps have degrees and they have the title of leader. These leaders proceed to expect blind obedience and essentially pair of hands kind of support. Their focus in on the deliverable only and what is immediately in front of them. Contrast this with the leader who believes “we are the smartest” and focuses on multiplying what each team member brings to the table. Their reach is significantly wider and higher because they are more focused on outcomes rather than just deliverables and truly forming a trusted partnership with the team. Multipliers are more fun to work with as they are more interested in being a thinking partner than being a thinking replacement as someone who has all the answers.

Objectivity:

Main Idea: Responsibly think fast and slow! With our brains hardwired for auto pilot thinking primarily with the purpose of keeping us safe, leaders can easily be seduced into making quick assessments and judgments without any “conscious” thought. By demonstrating to your team that you are aware of how the brain works and that the capability to think fast and slow is a gift of humanity that needs to be managed with care. Team members want to be assured that their leader is putting curiosity before judgement when either thinking fast or slow. Your willingness and ability to remain objective especially under pressure will automatically engender confidence from your team and significantly strengthen your personal brand.

Validation:

Main Idea: Pay attention to what people value and need! We humans are social animals with five pre-set social needs that significantly influence our behavior. People value and need having acknowledgement for their sense of status, their need for certainty or predictability, their need for some sense of autonomy, their need for being part of a tribe or team that will keep them safe and lastly a need to be treated fairly. These five needs – status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness form the acrostic SCARF which was first coined by David Rock in 2008.  Essentially when any or all of these social needs are threatened people will move away from the direction you want them to go. Conversely, when any or all of this needs are reinforced and increased people will tend to move in the direction you would like them to go. SCARF provides leaders with a language for social interaction they can employ both in their personal and business lives to improve the quality of their social interactions. The key is remember that most of the elements of SCARF are occurring at the subconscious level of the brain. Therefore people may be moving away from an idea or project and they typically will not be able to explain why. By being able to help them put their difficulty into language you automatically strengthen your connection and validity as their leader.

 

Energy:

Main Idea: Connect, mobilize, sustain! Just as discretionary emotional energy is at the heart of building collaborative capital, energy around connecting before you communicate is at the heart of demonstrating your worthy intent in regards to commitment. Influencing people is something you do not something you have. Think of influencing as a three bladed propeller that must turn to create movement or progress.  The first blade is about connecting with people to understand what they value and need. Once you have established this context move on to mobilizing their commitment through either tell, sell, enlist or negotiate tactics. The idea is to use the right tactic depending on the context and to have multiple arrows in your influence quiver. The key for the third blade is to sustain that movement by acknowledging what people are contributing, giving feedback and information on progress. People will dedicate their commitment when they know their leader treats influence as a process and not just an event. The secret leadership ingredient is energy.

 

 

Final Words: This acrostic is powerful, purposeful and proactive. It is based on the premise that leaders need to continually PROVE their willingness to be a worthy steward of this important ingredient of collaborative capital. It is like swimming upstream. If you stop swimming you will fall back!

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