Are You Trying to Twist Their Arm?

September 9th, 2015

One of the biggest fallacies about leadership is that you can control others. Indeed, there is a myth that you can actually make them do what you want. You can make them buy into your ideas or wishes. You can tell them what to do and they will do it obediently, to the letter. You could try to twist their arms, but you will most likely have a human resources issue on your hands.

It’s a wish – or rather, a complete fantasy, which often times leaders buy into them selves. I’ve frequently had clients and colleagues over the years wonder why people just don’t do what they want, extolling “well, they’d be better off if they just did what I told them!” Laughter would then break out as the deliverer of said remark realizes they sound like a 5-year-old child not getting their way.

So, this is a reality check. You absolutely cannot make anyone do what you want them to do. However, you can do certain things and/or behave in certain manners that will inspire them to follow your directive and lead.

  1. Know who you are, what you do and how you do it – No matter who you are in the world, this is sage advice. It comes in handy at cocktail parties, dates and professionally when you’re seeking a job, selling an idea to a group or selling a product. It’s a timeless, simple skill that is oftentimes overlooked and underappreciated in our world of sizzle marketing and complex personal growth techniques.
  2. Not Everyone Will Hear You – Concentrate on the 20-30% of the people who can hear you and want to know more about your approach. If you keep trying to convince the other 70%-80% to listen, you’re focusing more on the negative and falling into the trap of begging to be liked. Forget it, as it’s a losing proposition. That 20-30% should be your ringleaders, or major influencers in your own department and surrounding ones.
  3. You cannot make anyone do anything, accept it – As I’ve said before, you can only inspire them to follow you. This is one of the hardest leadership lessons you’ll ever learn. People have free will. You cannot make anyone do anything. You also cannot change anyone, nor should you try. It’s not your job. Your job is to inspire others to be, do or have more than they currently have. If they want this, then provide them with the skills and tools to do so. Remember – they have advocates too.
  4. Be systematic and methodical – The truth is that people like structure. Human nature enjoys being able to work in a predictable manner within a structure that helps us to be safe. Not a vice-grip method, but one that is proven by a mentor to be successful. “Follow these steps and you will achieve the desired results. How do I know this? Because I’ve done it myself.” There’s a difference between the vice-grip way of leading people that makes them feel like “it’s my way or the highway” versus “this is what I know works, follow my lead for right now until you find your own footing”.
  5. Lead by example – Human beings are natural copycats. We see it everywhere in our culture, right down to men and women wearing the same outfits and colors, and eating whatever the latest trends may be. We naturally mirror those we admire and their behaviors, so be mindful of how you are being in the workplace. Eyes are always watching. It’s the easiest way to bring people on board to your way of being by showing them with your own actions, words and deeds.
  6. Treat Others with Dignity and Respect – Nothing gets others’ attention more than knowing that you are a leader who treats others with dignity and respect, even when you disagree with them. You show up on time, you back your team up and you never leave your colleagues hanging out on a limb. That shows that others matter to you and you’re invested in their success.

Of all the 6 tips I’ve just provided you with, the 6th is the most important. Who has your back? Your team leader does. When you operate in the manner of mentoring, advising, teaching and taking a genuine interest in others, you will receive loyalty and responsiveness back. This is because they will know that no matter what, you’ll be there for them, which means they will listen to you and follow your lead.

Inspire them. Let them know you are invested in them. Be an exceptional example to them, but be human too. If you do this, they will listen and they will follow you.

Leave your comments, questions and musings. I read every single one of them!

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