Tony Fielek tells Alan Hosking about the importance of getting key people to help you achieve success and happiness.
Why is it important for us to get help from others?
Whatever else you have defined for yourself as desirable to achieve in your life, the major part of your plan will boil down to two elements: success and happiness. The definitions of each of these elements will vary widely among people. Some people may define success and happiness as migrating to a South Sea Island, sitting alone on a beach and watching the sun rise and set.
For most of us, whatever our definition of success and happiness is, it will require us to interact with other people, make positive decisions about this and act on them. We won’t be able to succeed and achieve our goals without getting people on our side. It is even better when they stand up for us, push for us or aggressively battle for us and our positions in the organisation.
As you progress, you will notice that things go smoother and the results come faster when certain key people are on your team. Your personal influence with these people will help you achieve the success that you were looking for.
The first great stride you will make is when you discover that you need the help of others to achieve whatever greatness you are destined to receive. The loner, the self-made man, is either a cruel deception or is so rare and extreme that doing it by yourself is a difficult self-defeating strategy. When you can get key people on your side, pushing your ideas and positions assures your victory.
Who are these key people and how can one identify them?
Key people include all the people you must interface with during your day. Although specific tasks you must accomplish to achieve your goals and objectives require using large quantities of your personal energy, this key person strategy is really a personal energy saver. Most young people don’t even consider this fact. They continue to put in the effort, burning themselves out and, after a few years, wonder why they are tired.
Focusing on putting your effort into those parts of the task that will get the attention of all these individuals that can help you move forward will reduce the effort required for your career advancement. When these key persons help you with your task, they tend to get caught up with the programmes and will encourage others to help. These efforts tend to have a synergistic effect and you get a bigger bang for your buck.
How would you know when you meet one of these key people?
This is a good question and requires a look at the basic markers of the key person. The key person is usually a person of action. That person is not one who will stagnate in the humdrum, bureaucratic grind. These people need action daily in their lives. They will work and agitate to make things happen. These are the kind of people you need to know when you need to make things happen now!
A key person, in an organisation, is not necessarily at the top of the organisation. They can be virtually at any level of the organisation. Money is not the motivation for these individuals. The satisfaction of accomplishing a difficult task or doing a job well is what drives them. Often, these individuals will migrate to a place in the organisation where they can maximise the satisfaction. Often these people will have an influence far beyond what you may expect from an organisation chart. There is no reason that they cannot gain satisfaction while helping you achieve your goals and objectives. Once these people are won over to your side, you are already more than halfway to success.
The key people have a need to solve interesting problems and don’t want to be tied down by day-to-day bureaucratic issues. They often have turned down promotions just so they could do interesting things and not be handcuffed to a desk. They have all the qualifications to be promoted but prefer problem solving.
The key person will also be very creative. They refuse to have their intellect channeled into the proper method of solving the problem. This person often has gone out of his way to get transferred to jobs in a number of different departments in the company to gain additional knowledge in developing skills to solve a wide range of problems.
A key person solves problems. When you talk to one and engage that person’s intellect, you will immediately be the recipient of solutions. Not all of them will be good ones. But, often the most difficult thing in resolving the situation is finding a place to grab hold and start the process of the solution. A key person will certainly provide at least one of these handles to start and get off dead centre.
Other people go to this person for help. When the home office sends one of its directives or a department manager issues his orders to the group and walks away, the key person is the one other people approach to discuss the situation, and then they will go back to their offices or workstations and begin to carry out the orders from “above”.
Nothing happens until the key person has a chance to bless and clarify the instructions.
It is highly likely that a key person is a creative thinker and a bit of a nonconformist. This person has a personality that will resist efforts to restrict or channel his thinking. Often the key man’s creative urge shows in his efforts to get transferred to new jobs or acquire new knowledge of other departments. This is your first clue to the presence of the key person.
Is it difficult to find key people in an organisational setting?
The more people there are in an organisation, the more difficult the job of finding the true movers and shakers. Sometimes, you can believe the press releases and articles you read in the newspaper or trade journals. But, more often than not, the people who really “make it happen” are not the ones who get the press coverage.
In every company, there will be people who wield influence far beyond what their apparent place in the organisation will indicate. These people will be involved in problems beyond their immediate responsibility. Frequently, they are people that others go to for advice on problems.
Once you have identified a key person, what should you do?
You will need to get him or her on your side. It will get you much further in any group if you can work with the lucky person and learn how to use their power with the group by turning it to your advantage.
The best way for you to get ahead is through your personal power to influence and control critical, specific individuals who can help you achieve life’s success. Once you do that, you will be able to control the actions of many people through just a few – you can save time by concentrating your efforts on the right person. A key person will save energy and you will know for sure who you have to please and you will avoid the people who cannot help you succeed.
Tony Fielek earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in business administration from Wayne State University and a juris doctor degree from Michigan State University. Throughout his career, he had the opportunity to travel the world and learn to interact with people from many different cultures. Fielek is now retired and living in Detroit, Michigan, where he continues to help people realise their dreams. He is the author of The Success Process Handbook: A Thinking Person’s Guide to Interpersonal Relationships which is available on Amazon.com.
This article appeared in the November 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.