At Their Mercy
As a leader, you’re at the mercy of those you lead.
It’s an important perspective to accept.
Your ego, and society, says you’re in control. You’re not.
It’s never been more clear than it is right now.
According to a recent CNBC article, over 4 million people have left their jobs each month in 2022. We are in a time when options abound and workers are not afraid to test the grass on the other side of the fence. This statistic also points to a void in understanding by leaders.
Why Should We Care?
When we can detach from our need to control, we open ourselves up to understanding our primary duty as a leader: to create the proper conditions that will allow growth and teamwork to take place.
Leadership is less about getting the person to do something and more about creating the space and conditions that will allow the person to choose to be led. That’s a significant difference and requires a significantly different approach to leading.
These conditions and space we want to create as leaders should be intimately tied to our vision for the team. When you close your eyes and think about the perfect performance by your team, what does it look like? How are people acting? What are they saying? These are the conditions you are creating.
The better we paint the picture of our vision, the more people we attract that believe in the same things we believe in. These are the people we want on our team.
While attracting the right people is critical, the other benefit of establishing the right conditions is that we push those that don’t believe in our vision to choose something else early in the process. And, we all know trouble just one bad apple can cause.
The space to choose is powerful because of the commitment it evokes. Rather than being forced, or coerced, into doing something; we want to allow people to join our cause and vision because they believe in it. When we choose our path, we’re more likely to view the obstacles as simply part of the path and work through, around, and beyond them. When we don’t choose our path, the obstacles are more likely to be viewed as roadblocks not worth the struggle to navigate.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
Creating conditions and space for your vision to be considered and chosen isn’t an easy proposition for a leader. It’s much easier to simply pass down commands and punishment. Of course, easier is a terrible compass. Here are a few ideas to consider when creating those conditions and space, modified slightly from Daniel Coyle’s finding in The Culture Code.
While we don’t control those we lead, we certainly have a profound impact on what they ultimately choose to do. However, that impact swings both ways. As a leader, tie your rope more closely to the conditions you are creating rather than the directions you are giving. Detaching from this will allow you, as the leader, to realize you are merely holding the pen.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.