I am wandering around Houston airport looking for signs that I am at the right gate for my connecting flight to Amsterdam. I can’t find any. Nor anyone at the help desk.
I feel confused and start to feel anxious. If I am at the wrong gate, I will miss my flight and be too late at Schiphol to help my parents fly out to the Canary Islands.
What should I do? Run back to the main hall and confirm that I was at the right place, which diminishes my chance that I can run back in time to board? Or stay here and risk that I should have been somewhere else?
As I am thinking through the probabilities of my choices, I see a flock of people dressed in the typical KLM Dutch royal blue move toward me. I run up to them to get details about my flight departure. “Yes, you are at the right gate. We’re gonna board the Amsterdam flight in 10 minutes.”
Phew. And so it is that I can help my parents fly out to La Palma, for what might be their last stay in the village they have visited in the last 13 years. With all the Covid-protocols, walkers, and physical challenges they are facing, I doubt they could have made the trip without me.
This is the power of social proof Robert Cialdini talks about. When we have to make decisions in ambiguous situations, we use the social cues of those around us to choose what to do.
Social proof is very effective when we don’t want to waste hours figuring out our next step, especially not when we can’t afford to make big mistakes or deviate from what is working in similar situations.
But social proof has a catch.
It can be harmful when you compare yourself to a dissimilar group of people. Then you might end up making decisions that don’t support your needs and values.
That’s why the leadership circles I facilitate are for nonprofit leaders only, especially everyone in middle and upper management, including the C-suite.
There are enough circles where nonprofit leaders are mixed with for-profit leaders. Other circles are specifically geared toward the CEOs of nonprofits.
But there are very few, if any, for middle and upper management. Even though they face their own challenges and would love to be able to talk with peers who have been in similar situations.
Current participants value realizing that they are not alone with their struggles. Listening to their peers, they get ideas about how to inspire their team to communicate openly and collaborate productively with them, or ask for help and listen to feedback.
If you want some reassurance that you are flying out in the right direction, your blue fleet is right around the corner.
We start a second leadership circle in May. Six meetings in 12 weeks, with socials and empathy pairs in between. You want to board that group? You can book your ticket by talking with me first.