Management Professionals
Personal Message from Anne Warfield

Today's ezine is going to focus on one thing —a brain concept called priming -in two different applications - one will be from a sales perspective and driving positive results and one is about leadership and how negative priming can divide and disrupt. The brain concept of Priming is more fully explained in a fabulous book I highly recommend called the Neuroscience of Inclusion by Shannon Murphy Robinson and Mary E. Casey.

As you all know with Outcome Thinking® I always talk about how the brain is designed to protect you and in order to be a great leader or sales person you have to be able to think, speak and execute from the other person's perspective. Priming helps explain WHY that is so important.

I won't go full in-depth on priming as the book will explain it more fully but the essence is that the brain is primed by certain things or people and that influences what we do.

So here is my great sales priming example. My daughter is looking at colleges. We have toured, as a family, several colleges together. As parents we look at the following things- how safe is it? How sound is the teaching? And what is the cost? My daughter looks at- will I like it here? Will I find people like me? Does it feel fun, spiritual, and good at teaching?

Notice how the radars are slightly different. So here is what one school did to maximize answering the student's concerns so the student (who is the most influential with the parents as we want her to be happy) would become the sales person to the parents. Grand Canyon University (GCU) does early acceptance. If you are accepted they invite you to come with a GROUP of students from your same state to visit the campus overnight AT THEIR EXPENSE. They fly the kids out as a group, have them stay in a DISCOVERY dorm together, go to a football game, meet the professors, and eat together.

So what happens? Well, think about priming—they answer all the student's concerns— will I find people like me? Hmm. They don't wait until you already register to have you meet people. Instead you make instant friends with the students from your state that are also looking at the college. So, what do the kids all do? They say, "I want to go here, do you?" Then they start looking at texting and snapchatting with each other and building bonds to get roommates. Will I like it here? Well, that is answered as they run around the campus meeting other students and going to events together. The last question is answered by having them meet with professors that are in their field of interest.

So, what happens when your child steps off the plane returning from their immersion experience? First words are, "I really, really, really want to go here". And as a parent ultimately what you want is for them to be happy and find a school that they feel like they will belong and excel at. Brilliant marketing on their part! I am sure that GCU works with the airlines to get low bulk buy rates on flights so it costs them perhaps $3000 with food and flights to fly out 10 possible students of which I am guessing they will capture 80% of them. Great return on investment.

As a sales person, start thinking about how you can turn the customer into the sales person so you become a trusted partner.

Situation: Read on for the Leadership priming in this months Outcome Thinking® Solution.

PS If you want to find out how to think and speak holistically and strategically join us for our upcoming Managing Your Strategic Message Session for Leaders. Learn More

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Outcome Thinking® Solution

The brain concept of Priming applied to Sales and Leadership

by Anne Warfield

Now let's look at priming from another angle - leadership. Since I am not affiliated with one political party over another as I always vote by the character of the individual and the pattern of their behavior so I am going to use both a Republican and a Democratic example. I am also using these as most likely all of you reading this will be able to draw your own conclusions by seeing the patterns you have seen these individual’s behavior have on the nation. I am not by any means advocating or talking about the policies these individuals have or have not done—this is strictly looking at their behavior and how it primes and impacts other people’s behavior in our nation.

I am always amazed when people in high levels will say things like "My personal and work life are two different things." Like when President Clinton was caught up in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the debate was whether or not as a nation we should even care about that as it is his personal life not his work life. And today we have President Trump tweeting and saying things that make it hard for even his own cabinet to work with him. Should we worry about this?

Well when you think of priming—how the brain is primed to do and take action based on what influences it— then, yes, we should be involved with all of this. In their book, Shannon and Mary say when priming messages "come from leaders or others in positions of influence, they are particularly impactful because a leader’s behavior also primes others to treat someone in the same way the leader treats them—positively or negatively." As leaders YOU are a primer for your organization and your team. So YES you do need to be held to higher standards as others look at you and your actions as a basis for what they can or should do. I am not saying whether this is fair or not, it is just a reality. That is what we step in to when we accept a leadership position.

So when you look at your team, if you see behaviors you are not wild about, first look at yourself and ask, "What am I doing that may be priming this person’s brain to feel this is acceptable behavior?" Remember a lot of priming happens with our nonverbal behaviors so you need to examine what you are saying and doing both consciously and unconsciously, identify it, and then look at how to change it. I find that often the negative behavior on a team happens because a leader may be unintentionally doing something that allows it. It could be that the leader is uncomfortable with conflict, or is afraid of losing that person’s knowledge, or that the leader wants to know all that is going on so their team doesn’t know how to operate without the leader making the final decision. It can be all sorts of things, but the first thing you need to do is look at YOU and see what you may be PRIMING in their brain and then stop doing it.


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