Who remembers the 2nd Star Trek movie, Wrath of Khan? My favorite “human” character of all time, Mr. Spock, twice uttered this wonderful phrase: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. One time Kirk uttered “or the one”.

Mr Spock from Star Trek trying beer, Siena, Italy
Pranav Bhatt via Compfight

Throughout all my years in management, I always took the approach that I wasn’t going to get everyone totally on my side, but if I got the majority on my side I would be successful. It was pretty much the bulk of the phrase above that always stuck in my mind, and indeed I found that it worked well.

Even with the type of work I did and do, although I want perfection I realize that it’s rare to attain perfection and even rarer to keep things that way. So I always went for the biggest and most sustainable pop, and that worked well also.

I usually had to work on myself when I knew there was one or two people who wouldn’t buy into my concepts. Even though they worked, like most everything else in life there’s always going to be someone waiting for something bad to come, rather than enjoying the good that’s there.

I didn’t want those people bringing me down, and I didn’t want them bringing the team down, so I kept my eye on them to make sure there wasn’t any dissension (by the way, that’s the correct spelling, without the “t”; I’m stunned also lol); destroy my team and you’ve got to go.

With that said, because I’m me, I always had my eye open for “the one” that I thought might need something more, something extra. If someone seemed more reserved than usual I’d give it a couple of days before I acted. If someone seemed distracted and out of sorts I’d do the same thing.

As a consultant, when I’m working with groups sometimes I have to pay attention to the signs from people who don’t seem to be with the program. Sometimes I have to defer and let it go, while at other times, if I’m invited in either on purpose or surreptitiously, I’ll act.

It can be risky not paying attention to every person you have to work with, even if they’re not totally on the same plane. I remember being in a meeting many years ago with 9 or 10 other consultants who were discussing something, and all of them were ready to do something… when I had to step in.

I had to tell them that what they were planning was wrong because I knew everything they were trying to do and I was the only consultant in the room from MY state. Had they followed through on their plan they would have wasted 3 months of work on something that wouldn’t bring any money in.

At that point they could have ignored me and done what they wanted to do, but they listened. Sure, in this instance I wasn’t whining, and it had been a fluke for me to be invited to this particular meeting in the first place. But had they not listened they’d have cost the client millions of dollars and been trying to figure out a way not to absorb any of the blame since I’d told them the right way.

Sometimes “the one” needs more help than the rest. Sometimes “the one” is the only person in the room that knows what’s going on. There are times when you need to be wary of “the one”, and times when you need to know when to listen to “the one”.

If you have great listening skills, you’ll be able to figure it out, and either way it goes you’ll benefit the team, and possibly yourself.

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