Getting people to do what you want them to do

May 08, 2017

Getting people to do what you want them to do. This is what leadership is really all about. And it is never easy. Especially today in the A/E industry, where finding a job is not all that difficult. There is no “schtick,” so to speak. You cannot coerce people into doing what you want them to do. They have to WANT to do it.

So how can you make that happen? Here are some thoughts:

  • Help them out. You want people to help you to respond to your requests? Then you need to help them. What can you do to make their job easier? What task can YOU do to help them finish their project? What roadblock can you clear out of the way to make their day better? Help out the other guy and they will help you. Simple idea.
  • Don’t (just) be a critic. Everyone – and I mean everyone – hates those who criticize and judge but don’t DO anything themselves. We had a guy like that in our other business. We tried to help him understand he would get zero cooperation unless he jumped in and worked side-by-side with those he was trying to direct. But he wouldn’t listen. Don’t be one of these people! Get in there and show everyone else how it is done by being a doer yourself. You will have a lot more influence over them and they will work to help you succeed if you can remember this.
  • Show you appreciate people. Tell them “thanks.” Send them an appreciatory email. Brag about them to a client. With some folks, if you just show the smallest amount of appreciation, it goes a really long way. Even if you show appreciation for someone who is just doing the job they are paid to do it will help you when it comes to getting them to do what you want/need them to do.
  • Don’t be a jerk to anyone else. Everyone hates to see someone get abused or nastily dressed-down. Even if you never do it to them personally, their fear is you will someday IF people see you do it to anyone else. So be careful! Watch what you say and don’t give anyone a reason to not like you. Because if they don’t like you, odds are they will NOT be doing what you want them to do – at least not the way you want it done on the schedule you want it done on.
  • Be careful of making too many requests. One reason (not the only reason, but one reason), you could be the boss and the others aren’t is because you can multi-task and juggle your priorities. What I have discovered over a long time of working in this business is not everyone can. So if you bury them with too many requests at one time, some get ignored or forgotten. It’s not deliberate or malicious on their end. It’s just the reality of how they are wired. They forget stuff. So make them write it down – or put it in writing yourself.

There’s a lot to this leadership stuff. The sad reality for a lot of us is this: Just when we have finally learned all the lessons we really need to know, it’s time to retire. Or at least the younger people we work with think so!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.