“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” is a philosophy that can only get you so far in business. For a larger project that’s worth doing, you’re going to need help, and that’s where Michele Lederman’s advice comes in handy.
Lederman, a South Orange-based consultant, is an author of business books including “The Connector’s Advantage: Seven Mindsets to Grow Your Influence and Impact” and “The 11 Laws of Likability” among others. On Thursday, January 23, in an event sponsored by the Human Resource Management Association of Princeton, Lederman will deliver a webinar on “How to Get What You Want: Influencing Others into Action.” The we
inar will take place from noon to 1 p.m. and the cost is $25. For more information, visit hrma-nj.shrm.org.
Lederman says influencing others into action is a task that consists of being clear about what you want to accomplish, getting into the right mindset, and lastly, measuring the outcome so you know if you have succeeded or not.
As it happens, the actual influencing of others overlaps heavily with her observations about how to be a connector. Being in a “connector mindset,” she says, is about prioritizing relationships. Those relationships can help you do things faster, easier, and better.
Digging deeper, the question is, how do you get people to do what you want?
“Why do people do anything?” Lederman says. “At my talks, I ask people to tell me why they do anything. I hear things like money, or ‘I did it for the person’ or ‘I did it because it would help my career’ or ‘I did it because it felt good.’ And most of the answers fall into one category.”
All that is to say that people often do things because there is something in it for them, be it a financial reward or the satisfaction of helping a cause that is close to them personally, for example, a charity that helps victims of a disease that affects a loved one.
“It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the truth,” Lederman says. “I’m very careful to make sure people never feel bad about self-motivation.”
Other times, people just do something because of the personal relationship they have with the person who needs help. And this is where one of Lederman’s seven mindsets of a connector comes in: one of them is the “generous spirit.”
“It enables the mindset of abundance, which enables conscientiousness,” Lederman says. “I think it’s really about understanding how to prioritize relationships. It’s not a transactional encounter. It’s a long-term view about the relationship.”
For example, Lederman recently contacted a fellow female author friend of hers to make an introduction on behalf of a person who had read her work and admired it. She didn’t get anything tangible in return for making this connection, but in the long term, being a “connector” is a huge asset.
“It’s not linear. It’s not about quid-pro-quo,” Lederman says. “It’s not about reciprocity.”
Lederman’s ideas about “connector” personalities are not just based on her own experiences. In researching her book, she worked with an academic from Montclair State University to study personality differences between those who considered themselves “connectors” and those who did not. After surveying 800 people and testing attributes such as emotional intelligence, authenticity, locus of control, and memory, Lederman came to a surprising conclusion: there was no personality factor that correlated with being a successful “connector” of others.
In other words: “Anyone can be a connector,” she says. “Connectors prioritize relationships in everything they do. It’s not about result first, it’s about relationship first. You don’t have to be the extrovert or the life of the party. It is attributes and behaviors that everybody can learn.”
Lederman did identify levels of influence that connectors have, from the non-connector up to the “global superconnector” who knows people all around the world. (Lederman says she is the latter: Although she is based in New Jersey, she recently introduced someone in Europe to someone else she knew who happened to live half an hour away.)
Lederman grew up in Orange, where her father was an entrepreneur and her mother was a legal secretary. Lederman was the first in her immediate family to graduate from college, but her mother wasn’t far behind, and graduated herself at age 50. Lederman earned a bachelor of science from Lehigh and an MBA from Columbia. She started her career in finance and worked as a CPA for 10 years before striking out on her own in 2001. Her first book, “The 11 Laws of Likability,” published in 2011, has been printed in more than a dozen languages.
Despite her technical training as a CPA, Lederman has made a career teaching “soft skills.”
“Soft skill training is really hard,” she says. “It’s the biggest differentiator between average and star performers: their ability to work with other people. What I do is help people work better together.”