Monday, May 26, 2014

Leadership And Surrendering Control

Leadership… Control?  Coercion?  Or Influence?

I’ve worked at a handful of different companies, and for many different people. Only a few of those people understood that they could not make anyone do anything.

There were plenty who thought that through yelling, berating, threatening, or bullying they could make the people around them do what needed to be done.  And sure, some people will do what you bully them into doing, as long as you are watching over them.  As soon as you leave they will either stop doing, or the quality of their work will be dramatically reduced.

Others will do the absolute minimum version of what they are threatened into doing.  This can work in the short run if the minimum is good enough for you.
And some people cannot be made to do anything… they know that they can simply walk away any time they choose. 

Not one of these methods leads to employees who are engaged in their work. I’ll bet that you’ve worked for a bully at least once in your life.  Did you enjoy it?  Was the atmosphere one that fostered teamwork, high morale, high standards of performance, low turnover, and one that you were sorry to leave?

We only have the power that people give us.

The best people I have worked for and with were the ones who understood that we have no control at all over what other people do, and we cannot make anyone do anything.  Once this is understood, and we still have to get things done through others, we realize that the only way to do that is to influence them… To get them to want to do the things that need to be done.  In other words, we choose to act as Leaders instead of tyrants.

Once we surrender to our lack of control we can start to figure out how to get things done without coercion.

In order to get anything done or changed we first have to admit that we have no real control over what people do.  Be honest… when is the last time you were able to ‘make’ anyone do anything?  You can threaten, and they can agree under that duress, to do what you want them to do.  And that’s still a choice they are making… they decided that keeping the paycheck was worth putting up with you.

If you have children, or have ever dealt with kids for any time, you know that you cannot make them do anything… well… not for very long anyway.  You can pick them up and carry them, you can shove food into their mouths, and you can try to wrestle clothes onto them… and you cannot keep that up forever.

Once they are a certain age, you cannot control them in any way.  You can only hope that you have influenced them in a way that will help them make the right choices for themselves.

What can we control?

  • ·      How often we say ‘thank you!’

  • ·      Our level of honesty.

  • ·      How much time we spend trying to convince people we are right.

  • ·      Whether or not we say that negative or sarcastic thing out loud.

  • ·      How well we listen to others.

  • ·      When to ask for help.

  • ·      How often we use our influence to help others, as opposed to focusing on building influence.

  • ·      How often we admit when we are stressed.

  • ·      How well we take care of ourselves, with exercise, sleep, and eating right.

  • ·      How generally positive or negative we are.

  • ·      Sometimes, and only sometimes… we can control how we react to what happens.  

To get people to do anything, we can only hope to influence them...

In order to get things done through others, and get it done in a fashion that is better than mediocre, we have to:

  • ·      get the people who for us to want to do the work…

  • ·      to care about the quality of their work…

  • ·      to believe that they are an important part of the team…

  • ·      to care about the other members of the team…

  • ·      to care about our common goals…

How do we do that?  Well… there is no shortage of books, blogs, articles, videos, seminars, and trainings with an opinion around that subject.

If I were you I would start by investing my time and energy in self-awareness. 

I believe that without self-awareness the best we can do is can go through the motions of being a Leader, and wonder why we are not achieving the success of some other Leaders.

If we work on ourselves first, we can come to want to take the actions that describe Leadership.  Once we work through our own issues, Leadership will come more naturally for us; we can become authentic Leaders; and build the teams that we had only dreamed about.

Second… I would read every word on
Really… I can’t say enough about it.  Tell all of your friends too!

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