Power Through Cooperation

Leaders recognize that they can't do it all themselves, so they are always alert to enlisting competent men and women who can help them achieve their goals. Leaders recognize that the greatest single limitation in any endeavor in human society is talented people. So leaders are always seeking out talented people, one way or another.

Seek out the advice of others. One of the most important rules of success I ever heard is that you need to ask your way to success. Ask other people for the help you need. Ask for advice. Ask for counsel . Never assume that you know it all or try to learn it from the ground up. As they say, you'll never live long enough to make every mistake. So ask others and learn from them

Also, compensate for weaknesses. Be very alert to your weaknesses and figure out how to compensate for them The fact of the matter is that if you can compensate for your weaknesses and build on your strengths, you can become an exceptional leader.

All leaders have peaks of tremendous strength and valleys where they are weak. Good leaders are able to find people who are strong where they are weak; that way they can concentrate on developing their own strengths to even greater heights. Don't worry about being weak in a few areas because it doesn't matter, as long as you bring along other talented people who can help you achieve your goals.

Steps to Cooperation

Here are three important steps to achieve power through cooperation. First of all, identify the key people in your life who can help you, whether you work with them or whether they work in parallel organizations. Identify these key people and think of how you can align yourself with them One of the best and most powerful ways to get people to help you is to help them

Second, take the time to develop relationships with these key people. Everything in life today is about relationships. Your success in life is going to be determined by the quality and quantity of successful relationships that you can form with other talented people.

Finally, make the effort to preserve and enhance those worthwhile relationships. One person who is in the right place at the right time and with whom you've developed a relationship over the years can save you five years of hard work.

Mastermind Groups

I recommend setting up mastermind groups. In San Diego, we established a mastermind group of entrepreneurs — successful entrepreneurs who meet regularly with other successful entrepreneurs to discuss new business ideas and also get feedback and advice on business problems or questions. In some cases, an entrepreneur who has been struggling with an issue for months may find a solution in minutes.

Mastermind groups can be structured or unstructured. In a structured group, there may be a brainstorming session around an assigned topic or question Members of the group will often be exposed to new ideas or perspectives that they can apply to their businesses. In unstructured groups, the members simply get together and discuss whatever topics they might be preoccupied with.

A mastermind group doesn't have to be external. As a leader, you should develop a mastermind group of key people in your own business or organization to meet with regularly in order to get a general sense of how business is going and what problems are coming up.

Managed Dependencies

Power entails managed dependencies. Power is having people who are loyal to you and that you can count on for favors, even though they are not subordinate to you in any way. Often, these people are ready to help you because you have helped them It's called the Law of Reciprocity. The Law of Reciprocity says that if you do things to help other people achieve their goals, they will be compelled internally to do things to help you achieve your goals.

Likability is also a key to power and influence. People will always do more and better things for people that they like than they will for people that they don't like.

The Power of Mentorship

Most successful leaders had mentors who helped guide them to the top. Here's some advice on how to build better and more successful mentor-mentee relationships.

■ Set clear goals for yourself in every area of your life. You won't know what type of people can help you until you know exactly what you want to accomplish.

■ Identify the obstacles and roadblocks on the path to your goals.

■ Identify the areas of knowledge, skill, and expertise you need to acquire to overcome these obstacles. This will tell you what you need to learn from your mentors.

■ Look around you and select the most successful people in the areas where you will need the most help.

■ Join the clubs, organizations, and business associations that these kinds of people belong to. It may take a little bit of research, but this information can be found.

■ Once you've joined these clubs, organizations, and associations, become actively involved. Volunteering for assignments and taking on tasks will bring you to the attention of the kind of people you want to meet faster than anything else.

■ Work, study, and practice continually to get better and better at what you do. To attract the best mentors, you need to develop a reputation for being an up-and-coming person in your field.

■ When you find a potential mentor, remember that you are dealing with a very busy person.

Don't make a nuisance of yourself. Instead, ask for ten minutes of the person's time, in private, to ask for advice. Nothing more.

■ When you do meet with a potential mentor, explain that you want to be more successful in your field and would very much appreciate a little guidance and advice. Ask for an answer to a specific question, or a recommendation of a specific book or other resource, or a specific idea that the individual found helpful in the past.

■ After the initial meeting, send a sincere thank-you note to the person. Mention that you hope that you can call the person again if you have another question.

Each month, drop your mentor a short note about your progress and about what you are doing.

Make it clear that you are listening to your mentor's advice. You are reading the recommended books, taking the recommended courses. There is nothing that makes a potential mentor more open to helping you than your making it clear that the help is doing some good.

Arrange to meet with your mentor again, perhaps monthly or even more often, if you and the other person work closely together.

One final note: As you grow and develop through the course of your life and career, move on to mentors who can give you more and different and better advice relevant to where you are now.

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