What Leaders Can Learn From Hostage Negotiators

George Kohlrieser shares his tips on how to transform your most difficult staff into innovative individuals

We all have a member of members of staff we struggle to manage successfully or to even get along with. So marketing chiefs, what can you do about it?

Psychologist, former hostage negotiator and professor of leadership at the International Institute for Management Development, George Kohlrieser is the co-author of Care to Dare: Unleashing Astonishing Potential Through Secure Base Leadership. He talks about how a respectful, caring workplace produces big innovation gains.

What can leaders learn from hostage negotiators?

As a hostage negotiator, you have to create a relationship with someone you don't necessarily like. And through that relationship, you have to help the person change his mind, convince him to give up weapons and come out, knowing he will probably go to prison. Hostage negotiators have a 95 per cent success rate because of the way it's done.

Leaders have to be able to show some caring. So does a hostage negotiator. You do this authentically. It's not manipulation. You do it by being interested in the well-being of that person, working toward common, incremental goals. If I have someone in front of me who's an absolute jerk, I have to remember what my role is and what our common goal is. Be immune to criticism. De-escalate their tension so they will cooperate with you.

Why does this approach work?

The idea comes from evolutionary psychology, where we know that the human brain looks for pain and danger in the world, to survive. When a child has a good caretaker and is safe, the child goes out to explore and comes back for protection, energy and comfort. Then he goes out again. That phenomenon remains throughout life. You need secure bases until the day you die.

How caring should a leader be?

The more the better, within boundaries. It's how you show interest and concern, how you do small things for the people around you. In customer service, you know when you're dealing with a bureaucrat who is cold and detached, as opposed to someone responsive. Leaders often say, "I don't have time to care." But they're creating a huge, huge problem for themselves. What I'm talking about is engagement. You deal with people respectfully. You can be tough but respectful.

How do you measure the level of caring you've already built?

Measure the engagement of employees. If your immediate boss is caring and gives respect and interest in a variety of ways, then you feel engaged. Engagement is directly linked to productivity. Organisations that measure engagement of over 65 per cent are going to make it. If you're under that, you're in big trouble. Caring doesn't mean you're soft or a pushover.

What's the link between caring and innovation?

When a leader creates that trusting environment, the organisation opens itself to innovation and creativity, as opposed to being defensive and looking over the shoulder. The kind of caring you provide dares people to challenge themselves and do things they'd never dare to do if they didn't have safety.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Why 2017 will herald a resurgence of values-based marketing

It doesn’t take long for predictions to become predictable: The rise and rise of Facebook; advancements in analytics; the normalisation of chatbots; personalisation, programmatic, automation, authenticity… The prediction that’s missing from these lists is that in 2017 we will witness a resurgence of values-based marketing.

Jacqueline Burns

Founder, Market Expertise

Why customer experience driven growth is set to take off

Our overall brand perceptions are invariably shaped by our experiences. And loyal customer relationships can be severed in moments by a negative service interaction.

Consistency and conversation: How branding and advertising can work better together

Advertising and branding are two of the most visible outputs of marketing, which is why getting them right is so important. However, too often the line between branding and advertising becomes blurred. This means advertising activity can be out of sync with brand, resulting in poor results for both functions.

Dan Ratner

managing director, uberbrand

Someone needs a swift kick up the bum for such an idiotic idea.

random

​Why a degree is no longer enough to get you hired as a skilled marketer

Read more

The frequent flyer programs are the new profit machines for airlines all over the world, as they have morphed to be mass marketing machin...

Steve@iFLYflat

Velocity frequent flyers program strong performer in mixed half-year for Virgin

Read more

Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing these info regarding the digital marketing trends.I've created a related video to this topic, would you m...

Fabio Carry

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Great news. Marketing automation can be very useful for companies at various stages of development. With so many tools out there it's bet...

Ben

How HBF rolled out marketing automation in eight months

Read more

I read a report that the business sector in Australia as a whole have yet to fully harness and see the proactive change that predictive a...

Alex Martin

Report: Predictive analytics, IoT, machine learning battle it out for marketing dollars

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in