Leading Reluctant Followers

Leading people is challenging enough when the people you’re leading want to be led. Leading people who don’t want to be led can be an even bigger challenge, but it’s not impossible. Leading reluctant followers requires that you always keep top of mind why you’re leading. 

If you’re an Authentic Leader that “why” is to make a positive difference in the lives of the people you lead. That Authentic Leadership mindset is all the motivation you’ll need to continue leading, even in the face of tremendous resistance.

Here are some strategies that you can use to authentically lead people who are resistant to leadership.

  1. You MUST truly know the people you lead. Invest the time to get to know the people you are leading. Building a relationship with them can help you understand their motivations and concerns. It will also help establish trust between you and your team.
  1. You are leading by example whether you intend to or not. If you want others to follow your lead, you need to model the behaviors you want to see in them. This means demonstrating a strong work ethic, staying positive, and being committed to the goals of the team.
  1. Communicate, communicate and communicate some more. Be clear about your expectations and the goals you want to achieve. Use clear and concise language. Don’t use waffle words because it is your responsibility to make sure everyone understands and accepts their roles in the organization. 
  1. Be open to honest feedback and listen to the concerns of your team members. Address their concerns and work with them to find solutions that will benefit everyone. As you grow in your leadership role you’ll discover that your people hold within them the solutions to most if not all of your organization’s challenges. But you must be an expert listener if you’re going to hear them.
  1. Give your people real ownership over their work and encourage them to take the initiative. When people feel like they have a say in the direction of the organization, they are more likely to be invested and engaged in its success.
  1. Recognize and celebrate the successes of your team. Positive reinforcement can go a long way in motivating people to continue to do their best work. Recognizing even small successes can lead to bigger results down the road.
  1. Remember that change takes time. Don’t forget that relationship building is a process. It may take a while for people to come around to your leadership style. Be patient and persistent in your efforts.

Leading people who don’t want to be led requires building relationships, leading by example, clear communication, listening to concerns, empowering them, celebrating successes, and being patient. All of those are within your control when you make a decision that says, I’ll Lead Today. 

So, will you make that decision?

Want more of LeadToday? I’ve changed things up on my Twitter feed for subscribers. I recently began publishing two or three videos each week focusing on an element of Authentic Leadership. I’ll post these videos each Tuesday and Thursday morning. Sometimes a bonus video pops up at other times during the week. They will be about 10 minutes long so we can get into the topic in a more meaningful way. The investment for subscribers in still only $4.99 a month. That’s for at least 80 MINUTES of quality video content on leadership a month. 

If you’re interested in taking a look, head on over to my Twitter profile page. If you’re not a follower yet just hit the follow button. It will change to a subscribe button and once you hit that you’re on your way. You can cancel at any time you’ve decided you have nothing left to learn about leading the people who you count on for your success. 

Here’s the link to my Twitter… https://twitter.com/leadtoday 

Choosing Your Words Wisely

Choosing your words carefully is an important element to Authentic Leadership. Actually, it’s important to every relationship you have. Your words have the power to influence and impact people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. 

The way you communicate can either build or damage relationships. It can affect how people perceive you and your message. When you choose your words carefully, you can convey your message clearly. You avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations. You begin the process of establishing trust and respect with the person or people you’re speaking with. 

On the other hand, if you use inappropriate, offensive, or insensitive language, you can offend people. You can hurt their feelings, or even cause conflicts. Those people “tune you out” and that’s when miscommunication takes place. You assume because you said it the other person heard it. That is a mighty big assumption.

Words can have different connotations and meanings depending on the context, culture, and the life experience of the person or people they are spoken to. It’s crucial to consider the context and the receiver’s perspective when choosing your words. If you’re a leader YOU must ensure that you communicate effectively and respectfully.

This is never more true than when you’re attempting to communicate during difficult situations. Choosing the right words in those situations is crucial. A poor choice of words can doom the chances of successful communication taking place. 

If you’re hoping to communicate in highly emotional or stressful situations consider these ideas.

  1. In difficult circumstances, emotions can run high, and it’s easy to get carried away and say things that are unclear or misunderstood. Choosing the right words can ensure that your message is communicated clearly.  You limit the risk of misunderstandings or confusion.
  1. Difficult circumstances often involve sensitive or emotional issues. Choosing the right words can demonstrate empathy and compassion towards the other person. It shows that you understand their perspective and are taking their feelings into account.
  1. The right words can also convey respect for the other person, even in difficult situations. Using polite and respectful language, even when discussing a challenging issue, shows that you value the other person. It shows that you respect their opinions and will consider them.
  1. Using the right words builds or maintains positive relationships. This is true even in the face of difficult circumstances. It can prevent the situation from escalating into an argument or confrontation. It is more likely to create a productive dialogue focused on finding a resolution.

Choosing the right words in difficult circumstances can help you navigate challenging situations with less stress and more success. It can lead to clearer communication, increased empathy and respect, and stronger relationships. 

Effective communication is a skill. By definition a skill can be improved with time and conscious effort. So YOU can improve your communication skills if you choose to. The only questions is…will you. Well…will you?

Want more of LeadToday? Speaking of help and helping…I’ve changed things up on my Twitter feed for subscribers. I recently began publishing two videos each week focusing on an element of Authentic Leadership. I’ll post these videos each Tuesday and Thursday morning. They will be about 10 minutes long so we can get into the topic in a more meaningful way. The investment for subscribers in still only $5 a month. That’s for at least 80 MINUTES of quality video content on leadership a month. 

If you’re interested in taking a look head on over to my Twitter profile page. If you’re not a follower yet just hit the follow button. It will change to a subscribe button and once you hit that you’re on your way. You can cancel at any time you’ve decided you have nothing left to learn about leading the people who you count on for your success. 

Here’s the link to my Twitter… https://twitter.com/leadtoday 

When and How to Ask for Help

Asking for help is an essential skill that can make a significant difference in your personal and professional life. Before we go any further I want to emphasize one word in that first sentence. Skill! Yes, asking for help is a skill. The most successful people are simply better at it than less successful people. 

One way they achieved success is by not flailing around trying to figure out problems on their own when help was readily available. They spoke up. The were not embarrassed or ashamed by gaps in their knowledge or ability. They know their ultimate success depended upon closing those gaps and they did whatever was required to close them. Even if it meant asking for help.

If you’re struggling to reach your full potential it may well be that you have a gap or two yourself. It may also be that you’re not sure how to ask for help or even if you actually need help. So let’s talk about that now. Here are some ideas on when and how to ask for help that you can use when you’re feeling a bit “stuck” and you’re not sure how to get “unstuck.”

  1. Recognize when you need help and know that without a doubt it’s okay to ask for it. Everyone, and I mean everyone, feels stuck or overwhelmed sometimes. That’s perfectly normal. Rest assured that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  1. The next step is to figure out who can help you with your problem. Think about people in your network, such as friends, family, colleagues, or mentors, who may have the expertise or knowledge to assist you. Don’t be embarrassed about asking, if you’ve asked the right person they are likely to be honored that you asked. 
  1. When asking for help, it’s essential to be specific about what you need help with. Provide details about the problem and explain what you’ve tried so far. This will help the person you’re asking for help to understand the issue better and provide more targeted assistance.
  1. Understand that asking for help doesn’t mean demanding or expecting the person to drop everything to help you. Be respectful of their time and schedule, and ask if they have a few minutes to talk or if you can schedule a time to discuss further.
  1. When asking for help, be open to feedback and suggestions. Listen actively to the advice you receive and ask questions to clarify any confusion. Remember that you’re seeking help to learn and improve, so embrace the opportunity to grow. If you’re going to ignore the advice entirely then don’t waste the other person’s time or your own. Continue to flail away on your own while other people pass you by.
  1. After receiving help, take the time to express your gratitude and thank the person for their help. Showing appreciation can strengthen your relationship and build goodwill for future requests. And don’t forget to pay it forward. Be on the lookout for others you can help too.

Asking for help is a part of success. It is a skill that can be developed. It requires recognition that you need help. It requires that you know, with specificity, what kind of help you need. But if you’re open to feedback and sometimes challenging suggestions, that help can make a positive impact on your success. 

Want more of LeadToday? Speaking of help and helping…I’ve changed things up on my Twitter feed for subscribers. I recently began publishing two videos each week focusing on an element of Authentic Leadership. I’ll post these videos each Tuesday and Thursday morning. They will be about 10 minutes long so we can get into the topic in a more meaningful way. The investment for subscribers in still only $5 a month. That’s for at least 80 MINUTES of quality video content on leadership a month. 

If you’re interested in taking a look head on over to my Twitter profile page. If you’re not a follower yet just hit the follow button. It will change to a subscribe button and once you hit that you’re on your way. You can cancel at any time you’ve decided you have nothing left to learn about leading the people who you count on for your success. 🙂

Here’s the link to my Twitter… https://twitter.com/leadtoday 

Dealing with Negative Attitudes

Dealing with negative attitudes can be a bit of a sticky wicket. (To be transparent I don’t know much about wickets. They apparently have something to do with an incredibly popular game that I, as an American, know nothing about) 

One of the things that makes dealing with negative attitudes so challenging is that we can see them in other people…in ourselves, not so much. Step one in dealing with negative attitudes is making sure your attitude is not the source of someone else’s poor attitude. 

Oftentimes that’s easier said than done. I am no different than anyone else in that respect. I’ve found that a hard look in the mirror coupled with a healthy dose of honesty is the best antidote for a negative attitude. “Things” are hardly ever as bad as they seem at first glance. A second, and sometimes third glance can go a long way toward snapping me back to reality. 

Only after we are certain we have positive control over our attitude can work on helping others gain a positive control over their own.

Dealing with other people’s poor attitudes is an even bigger challenge than dealing with our own. It’s important to approach the person with patience, empathy, and care. Here are some ideas that may make it less of a challenge.

  • Stay calm. Don’t let the other person’s poor attitude affect your own behavior. Take a deep breath and try to remain calm and composed. Remember, attitudes are contagious. Make sure yours isn’t infected with negativity while you’re trying to inject positivity into someone else. 
  • Listen, listen some more and then a little more. It’s essential to listen to what the other person is saying and try to understand where they are coming from. Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to share what the heck is going on that’s causing them to lose control of their attitude.
  • Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see things from their perspective. This can help you understand how they got to where they are. Never dismiss their feelings or perspective. Their perspective is likely different from yours because it comes from their life experiences. If you had the identical life experiences you’d likely have the exact same perspective too.
  • Speak in a calm and assertive tone, using “I” statements to express your own feelings and concerns. Never ever “blame” the other person for their feelings. Don’t tell them they are wrong to feel the way they feel. Negative attitudes are born from emotions. Trying to use logic, at least what you think is logic, to overcome emotions is a losing proposition.
  • Set boundaries and limitations. If the other person’s poor attitude is causing you undue stress or anxiety, it’s okay to set boundaries. Be clear about what you will and won’t tolerate in terms of behavior. The flight attendants on a plane tell you to “put your own oxygen mask on first” because if you pass out from lack of oxygen you won’t be able to help anyone. It’s the same with attitudes. If someone is sucking the positive oxygen out of your life then you need to put your positive mask on and separate yourself from that person. You can try again another time but you need to refill your positivity tank before making another attempt.
  • Know your own capabilities. It’s likely you’re not Superman or Superwoman. Sometimes another person may need more help than you are able to provide. If you think another person’s negative attitude goes beyond a bad day at work or a dispute at home then you may need to encourage them to seek outside help. This is particularly true if the other person’s negative attitude is prolonged and persistent. It could be a lot more serious than they are letting on.

Remember, dealing with other people’s poor attitudes can be difficult. It’s important to approach the situation with care and respect. By remaining calm, listening actively, and communicating assertively, you can help someone else “catch” your positive attitude and turn their crummy day into something terrific.

The Difference Between Managing and Leading 

I haven’t written on this topic in a while but a couple of recent conversations have provoked me into taking another stab at it. One of the conversations was particularly troublesome. A talent acquisition manager for a medical device company told me one of their main criteria when hiring was “ease of management.” I asked for clarification on exactly what that meant and they told me “someone who is easy to manage. 

I smiled and said good luck with that; you’ll never find a human being who is easy to manage. 

And that’s a fact. Human beings will always resist being managed. Sometimes the resistance is subconscious and sometimes it’s conscious. Sometimes it’s downright rebellious. Most of the issues managers would call personnel issues stem from the fact that they are trying to manage their people like a piece of equipment instead of leading them like a human being.

Managing and leading are two distinct concepts. They are different mindsets. The skills associated with managing are not the same skills associated with leading. Although managing and leading are often used interchangeably nothing is further from the truth. In general, managing involves overseeing and controlling the day-to-day operations of an organization or a team. We manage stuff, not people. Leading involves inspiring and guiding people to achieve a common goal. We do not lead stuff, we lead people. 

Here are a few of the most significant differences between managing and leading.

Focus. Managing typically involves a focus on maintaining and improving the status quo. Leading is focused on inspiring and creating change.

Execution. Managing involves implementing plans and policies that have already been established. Leading involves developing new strategies and ideas to move the organization forward.

Control. Managing is often about controlling resources and processes to achieve specific outcomes. Leading is more about empowering people and encouraging them to take ownership of their work.

Communication. Managing tends to involve more direct, specific communication about tasks and deadlines. Leading involves more open, collaborative communication that fosters innovation and creativity.

Vision. Leading is often associated with creating and communicating a vision for the future. Managing is focused on executing plans that are already in place.

Managing and leading are both important for the success of an organization. But they require different skill sets and approaches. A good manager is able to efficiently control resources and processes to achieve specific outcomes. A true leader is able to inspire and motivate people to work towards a common goal.

One person can possess both skill sets. Authentic leaders often have both great management skills and terrific leadership skills. They understand the difference and they never manage when they should be leading. And they never hire people they think will be easy to manage. They know that when they lead effectively, everyone is easy to lead. 

Motivating for Success

I have known many people through the years who waited for someone or something to motivate them. They complained about being bored at work. They complained about being bored at home. They were even bored when they appeared to be having fun. 

I kind of started thinking they were just boring people. But the truth is, they, like all people were naturally motivated. They lost their motivation over time. It could be a bad boss destroyed it. It could have been a set of circumstances beyond their control. Maybe they even made some decisions themselves that robbed them of the essential motivation required to reach their potential. 

Are you one of  the people who struggle with motivation? Do you have a hard time keeping yourself motivated? Have you been waiting for your boss or someone else to motivate you? Maybe they will or maybe they won’t but the reality is your motivation is up to you. You’re responsible for getting yourself going and keeping yourself going every single day. If someone else helps you a bit then that’s great. But never count on anyone or anything else doing what you should be doing yourself. 

Self motivation is a crucial factor in achieving success and reaching your goals. But I get it, it’s not always easy to stay motivated, especially when you face obstacles and setbacks. So here are a few thoughts on how to keep yourself motivated, even when the day appears to heading downhill in a hurry.

  • Set clear goals: Having clear and specific goals gives you something to work towards and helps you stay focused. Make sure your goals are realistic, measurable, and achievable. You cannot reach a goal you haven’t set. The absence of real goals in your life tends to make everything meaningless. Staying motivated is tough. It makes no sense in putting up the fight to stay motivated if there is nothing in it for you. Achieving your goals is what’s in it for you. If you want to be a motivated person then set goals today.
  • Break down big goals into smaller tasks. Large goals can seem daunting and overwhelming. Breaking them down into smaller, manageable tasks makes them less intimidating and helps you track your progress. Setting goals that seem too big to actually achieve makes you less motivated. 
  • Create a plan. A plan helps you stay organized and focused. Make a list of the tasks you need to complete and prioritize them based on their importance and urgency. Do this every single day. Know what goals you’re going after and know exactly how you intend to go after them. 
  • Celebrate small wins. Recognizing and celebrating small wins along the way can boost your motivation and keep you on track. On some days even small wins can be a very big deal.
  • Surround yourself with as much positivity as you can find. Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you. Avoid negative people and situations that bring you down. You are a compilation of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If you want to be an enthusiastic and motivated person then that’s the type of person you should be hanging around with.
  • Give yourself a break. Taking breaks helps you recharge and avoid burnout. Make sure you schedule time for self-care activities like exercise, “me time,“ or spending time with loved ones. If you think eating lunch at your desk makes you more productive then think again. Research shows people who eat lunch at their desk are 30% less productive late in the day. Even a 15 minute lunch break can make a positive difference for you. So indeed, give yourself that break.
  • Visualize success. Visualize yourself achieving your goals and imagine how it will feel. Use positive affirmations and visualization techniques to stay motivated and focused. This may sound corny but it is absolutely not. You can think in terms of “can’t” but that robs you of your natural motivation. Thinking, and seeing, in terms of “can” makes a much bigger difference than you may think. See yourself where you want to be and you’re far more likely to be there one day.

Remember that motivation comes from within, and it’s up to you to cultivate and maintain it. By using these ideas and staying committed to your goals, you can keep yourself motivated and achieve success. No matter what success may look like to you . 

Keeping Your Ego in Check

If you’re human then you have an ego. It’s healthy to feed it from time to time with positive affirmations and careful, honest introspection. If you’re a leader then one of your responsibilities is to also feed the ego of your people. Small portions are definitely recommended here. Positive, thoughtful recognition will help your people stay engaged in your organization. It also motivates them to consistently give their best effort.

The problem with an ego begins when it’s over fed. Even a little too much “ego food” can cause us to look like a boring braggart. It can make you seem like a person who thinks they are better than anyone around them. It’s a good idea to periodically, or even frequently, get on the ego scale.  You need to make certain yours isn’t getting a little too big. 

Here’s a few thoughts on keeping your ego in check.

  1. Become aware of your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This will help you recognize when your ego is taking over and when you need to take a step back from the ego buffet table.
  1. Humility is the opposite of ego. Practice humility by acknowledging your weaknesses. Always be open to feedback. Invest time to show appreciation for others. If you find it difficult to be humble I’d suggest you refer back to point #1. 
  1. Be mindful of your actions and words. Pay attention to the way you interact with others. Avoid dominating conversations, belittling others, or boasting about your accomplishments. If you need to constantly tell people how good you are at something it’s most likely that you’re actually not all that good. If you’re actually good at something other people will tell you, you won’t have to tell them.
  1. Adopt a growth mindset. Focus on learning and improving rather than proving yourself or being right all the time. If by some small chance, you actually are the smartest person in the room then you may want to consider finding yourself a different room. 
  1. Practice empathy: Empathy allows you to understand and relate to others, which can help you keep your ego in check. When you practice empathy, you are less likely to put your needs and desires above those of others.
  1. Surround yourself with people who challenge you. Being around people who have different perspectives and skills can help you stay humble and open-minded. When you are frequently around incredibly smart people it’s like being on an ego diet. 
  1. Start each day by considering what you have to be grateful for. Cultivating a sense of gratitude can help you appreciate the contributions of others. It will help you reduce the need to constantly prove yourself. And by the way, never miss an opportunity to tell people why you’re grateful to have them in your life. You may make their day and it’s highly likely you’ll make your own as well.

When you put these ideas into practice you can keep your ego in check and develop stronger relationships with others. And that is always a good thing!