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Wary of the Halo Effect

The halo effect: the propensity to believe that even a successful person’s negative behaviors are worth modeling and that the successful person succeeded because of these negative behaviors and not in spite of them.

The words above are my definition. You can find another one here.

I just read an article that recommended that entrepreneurs should learn from Bill Gates to memorize their employee’s license plates as to keep an eye on their comings and goings. I’m not sure Mr. Gates meant it exactly as the article described.

Regardless, it is doubtful that “memorizing license plates” was the key to Bill Gate’s success or that you could benefit from the practice.

  • You might benefit from monitoring your employees carefully. But you might benefit even more from creating a culture where monitoring their activities isn’t necessary.

The big book on Steve Jobs informed us that Steve wasn’t a pleasant person to be around. It also gave us an insight into his “reality distortion field,” his ability to insist that people find a way to accomplish something impossible with no regard for constraints.

I’m not convinced that Mr. Job’s success had anything to do with his unpleasant traits. A lot of people who have little emotional intelligence surround themselves with individuals with exceptional people skills to act as a buffer, protecting people from their leader, and protecting the leader from himself.

  • You might be able to get things done by being a difficult character or by demanding that things be done in spite of the constraints. And you might do even better to be the kind of leader people will walk over fire for because of the love and respect they have for her and her for them. Removing constraints is a more likely key to success than pretending they don’t exist.

Success isn’t commonly found in copying the negative and most unadmirable qualities of another successful person. It’s normally found by modeling the most disciplined and most positive attributes.

I once spoke to a company where their top salesperson never made cold calls. He was a model for all the other salespeople, who were failing miserably. After a few questions, I discovered that the company’s principals had given the top salesperson his largest accounts. He did such a good job taking care of them that they gave him the accounts of every person who left.

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Filed under: Sales 3.0

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