How to lead yourself and others when you hate the idea of being in charge and forcing others to follow your leadership.
About a year and a half ago, my wife and I started a mission to take our lives to the next level. We wanted to achieve financial freedom and move up the ladder of life to get more access to all the good stuff.
As part of that mission, I learned the ultimate step is to become the leader of your own life. And beyond that, once you can lead your life in the direction you want, you can take on the responsibility to lead others to do the same.
However, I’ve never been a leader. I’ve been a follower; I followed parents, friends, the rules and everything. I was too scared to take the power of making decisions. And I never felt the inclination to become the dominating leader who took charge and ‘kicked ass’.
So, how do you take on leadership when you’ve never had it, and never really wanted it?
How to Lead without Dominant Leadership:
- Model Leadership – show everyone what you want and expect through your own behavior and standards.
- Share the task of Path Finding – Be the one who facilitates others in finding the path to success.
- Empower Alignment – instead of enforcing rules on people, empower them to create the rules and help them to enforce them themselves.
- Empower People – Be the leader who empowers people to become their best by giving them trust, respect and responsibility. And help them to achieve their goals.
Leadership for those who hate the idea of leadership
What does it mean to be a leader?
The way I would look at things, before I ever imagined I could be a leader, was to see a leader as someone in charge who sets the rules and enforces others to follow them.
As a teacher, I started out as that kind of leader. Well I tried. And I failed. I’m sure some people can work that way, and I’ve seen it, but for me I just can’t be the type to force people. I want people to follow, not because they are being forced, but because they know I’m leading them in the right direction, I’m taking them where they want to go, and they know it’s the right thing to do for themselves.
But more than that, I want them to follow me because they respect me. I want them to do what I say because they know I’m smart, nice, responsible and good. Not because they fear me.
And so when I read Stephen Covey’s The 8th Habit, I was happy to see that he supports a new kind of leadership.
Stephen Covey on Leadership
“Leadership is creating an environment in which people want to be part of the organization and not just work for the organization.”(Covey, The 8th Habit, page 217)
I know for a fact in my job, working for a wage only gets so much drive out of me. And working because you fear the consequences, doesn’t create any ownership. Though I’m sure those approaches work, it doesn’t create an inspiring work environment, and for those leaders who hate feeling like they have to be the hard-ass boss, it just causes more stress.
If you’re the type of domineering boss, manager, parent or teacher who enjoys setting the agenda and enforcing it, then this is probably not for you.
But for those who acknowledge the value of leadership, but perhaps hate the idea of becoming a leader, you need to read this.
So how do we start to become more of a leader without using the domineering form of Leadership?
The first step in becoming more of a leader, is to first lead yourself. You can not demand high standards, trust, loyalty, and respect if you are not first able to demonstrate those traits.
You must first lead yourself to become the model of virtue, the template that you wish your followers to emulate and follow.
From my experience teaching children, I have learned one great lesson. That lesson is, ‘you can not directly teach anyone anything’. There is no way for me to directly shove the ideas I have into my students. If they are not interested, then whatever I tell them will simply fall to the flour and be forgotten.
The only way I can really teach anyone, is to model the behavior I want to see.
Modelling Behavior of a Leader
If I want discipline, I need to show that I am disciplined and I need to demonstrate the benefits of being disciplined. By doing so, my students will learn to follow my example.
But before that, if I want anything, I need to develop trust. Without trust, my students don’t know I care or have their interests at heart. Without that trust, they are unlikely to care what I think or say. So how do I teach them trust. There’s no rational way to teach it, I have to model it, give it and demonstrate the values that go along with being trusting and trusted.
Leader must have trust. I covered this previously in Trust: The Secret Weapon to Power-up You Business.
Once I have developed trust, then I can model the discipline, then model the right attitude to learning, demonstrate the value of learning, and then I can teach them the specifics of my subject.
The same for Business Leadership.
If there is no trust, then we may be able to motivate people with wages and punishments, but we are not really getting them on board. So the only way to maintain standards of operation is to be a strict, powerful leader who commands and demands the way forward.
If that’s not your style, like me, then you must model the type of culture you want; the attitude and the values you want your organization to evolve with.
So if you want to become a leader, without demanding, shouting and punishing, start by developing relationships of trust and model the kind of behavior and attitude you want others to follow.
2.Leadership through Shared Path Finding
Once you have been able to lead yourself to become the type of person you want to have in your organization, as strange as that sounds it does take a concerted effort, it’s time to start to lead others.
Now, as I said before, we cannot teach anyone by stuffing information into them. We need to model and try to inspire them through trust; the trust that we are worth following because we are cool, smart, caring, strong, protective, right … or whatever.
Well likewise, we cannot just demand people to follow us. We can’t just say, ‘ok, I’m the boss, let’s all do this …’
Management is not Leadership
That’s not leading, that’s managing. Now yes, we certainly can manage people to do what we want. My boss can demand work, or else. I can demand things of my students, and parents can demand things from children. But if we want those people to truly follow us, we need to make them part of our team.
Essentially, we want to bring our followers into our team and we do that by sharing the role of path finding.
Instead of simply telling our followers what they have to do, we should share with them what needs to be done (the goal/result) and we invite them to help us to find the solution to the problem.
As Covey points out:
“… pathfinding creates order without demanding it. As soon as the people involved agree upon what matters most organizationally, they share the criteria that will drive all decisions that follow.”Covey, The 8th Habit, Page 218
So, the idea is that people need to understand the organizations goals. By sharing the responsibility of finding the solution, we allow our followers to own the outcome, we empower them to use their strengths, their creativity and their intelligence. We also encourage trust and understanding, by valuing everyone’s individual abilities and value to the organization.
This is also effective as we are more likely to find more creative solutions when we work as a mastermind.
This sharing of vision and creativity helps to drive commitment:
“Together you determine the destination of the organization (vision and mission). Then everybody in the organization will have ownership in the path that leads to the destination (values and strategic plan).”Covey, The 8th Habit, Page 219
I have tried this as a teacher and I believe it has a lot of merit.
I started recently by doing the start of term activity of creating class rules with the class. We took the first lesson of the year and together, teacher with students, determined the rules, routines and procedures we want the class to follow.
I used to think this was stupid and a waste of time. However, now that I’ve tried it, I see that the kids have taken on responsibility. They are on the lookout for behavior and they are following my model of being an inspired learner who is always responsible, respectful and mature.
Path Finding in Business
In business, I think this idea would be much more effective. I wish my bosses would do this a lot more. At the moment, they just tell us the jobs and keep adding stuff. In the latest round of ‘add-ons’ we got cycle testing.
So the solution to inspiring, enlightening and empowering the future generations is a test every week.
I don’t really see the validity, well I see some validity, but I was never involved in the finding of the solution. I was just told ‘we have to do it’. And so, professional that I am, I do it. But my heart’s not in it. It’s not my solution. And so I will do it and I will feel less valued in my ability to come up with creative solutions to address the goals of the school.
It would be nice to have the time and the environment where we could actually develop a team approach towards solving the problems and achieving the objectives.
Effectively, path finding takes the full responsibility off the shoulders of the leader.
Together, you as a team are working out the solutions to problems and the leader is simply a helper, moderator and mentor.
That’s my kind of leadership.
So path finding is a great strategy for the leader who doesn’t really want to be a leader.
3.Leadership by Aligning
So we have become a leader, not by forcing others to follow, but by forcing ourselves to model the type of behavior we want to see, and thus try to lead others to follow our example.
Then we built our team of followers, or took responsibility of our team of followers, not by demanding compliance with our vision, but by working with them to develop a shared path toward success.
Next we need to establish the systems that will ensure discipline and execution. Basically, we need to consider how we will ensure that our followers do what they are supposed to do.
The Need for Enforcement
Unfortunately, this is a necessary step. Even when people are motivated by great modelling and by being involved in finding the path, people are human, and its natural to have slumps. Also, when you work with diverse and valued individuals, there will always be differences in opinion. And when you are trying to empower people to have an opinion and be motivated, that will cause issues.
The traditional managerial method is to establish rules, display authority and prepare to punish, and maybe have a system that also rewards.
This form of management has worked and it may work for you, but for me, I don’t like to force people. Sure, there are times when I have to use threats and punishment to get my students to do what they are supposed to do. But at the end of the day, I know these managerial processes are not effective.
The students I’m forcing to do things will learn something, but they won’t be invested and they will go on to forget everything. Furthermore, they will feel school is a place of tedious hard work.
Furthermore, if this is your go to mode of operation, it’s bound to lead to antagonism. People have opinions and they like to express themselves. If you are constantly just demanding their compliance, you will have to expect resistance at times. And after a long time of resistance, well it can get stressful.
Forcing Compliance Is not Really Effective.
The same goes with work. You can manage employees to do the work, or else they will be fired. They will work. However, to get your employees to engage with your mission, to get them to give more and more, to get them interested in solving the problems and finding new ways of maximizing, then you need more.
You can’t simply manage, you need to lead.
So in order to lead, we need to do more than command. Covey argues we need to:
“1)use both personal moral authority and formal authority to create systems …
2) create cascading goals throughout the organization …
3) adjust and align yourselves to regular feedback you receive from the marketplace and organization …” (233)Covey, The 8th Habit, Page 233.
So basically, you need to lead with your modelling of excellence, to have the moral authority that comes when people respect you. And you need to create clear goals for each level and function of the organization, and that should be done in collaboration with those who need to achieve these goals.
And you need to keep you eye on the clear indicators of success. You need to set your goals to those indicators and directly reward all behavior that attribute to achieving the goal for the market.
And if all else fails, you need to resort to organizational authority; become the ‘boss’ and demand the standards that you expect and model yourself.
A great tool for enabling alignment is the compelling scorecard.
A compelling Scorecard
“The people who are involved, who will be evaluated, need to participate in establishing a compelling performance scoreboard that reflects the criteria built into the mission, values and strategy of an organization so that they can continuously stay aligned with the process and be both responsible and accountable.”Covey, The 8th Habit, Page 243.
So effectively, and just like in path finding, or as part of path finding, the organization works together to outline the standards, the benchmarks, the deadlines and so on, and also establishes the rewards and punishments that go with their compelling scorecard.
Last note, is that it needs to be compelling. This is why we need to work together to develop the scorecard. Because when we set it up so it’s compelling, then we all actually want to achieve the goals in the best way possible.
4.Leadership by Empowering
The last step is empowering.
The old view of leadership, at least in schools and in business, is that the boss has all the power and the employee, or student, or child needs to do what he says, or they will be punished, or cut lose. (Basically)
The New Way
The new view of leadership, is about sharing power. The boss is not the power, the boss is the servant. She hires winners to do the job, solve the problem, and she empowers them to find the solution, to develop the rules and to take ownership and drive the organization into the future.
For those who want leadership, but hate the idea of leading, this is a great revelation.
For me, the idea of forcing people to do what I want sounds like hard work and stress. But working to help people to become empowered and to work together to become a synergized group, sounds like fun and rewarding work.
Covey’s Evidence for Empowered Leadership
Covey supports this idea with the story of his children. He talks about the problem of his children taking too long to get ready for school and his wife going crazy trying force them to get ready on time.
The solution he purports to have used was to sit them all down and outline the problem they were having and to show the children their responsibility and explain how their behavior influenced the family. And then he asked how they might solve it. In the end, the solution was to empower their children to be in charge of their own alarm. And then they had to work out what the ‘scorecard’ was. They got to choose their reward and their punishment.
And in the end, the parents were there to monitor and give feedback and the kids were empowered to take control of their lives.
Now I can’t promise that this would work in every scenario, but from my work with children, at least the ones from stable backgrounds, this approach sounds good.
Empower not Dis-empower
Instead of dis-empowering and encouraging uselessness, we should encourage those around us to take responsibility and to have some pride to become more powerful.
I have recently taken this approach to class, and it is indeed surprising to see the results of a small change.
Last year I was like, “do this and do that or you get detention”. And then I had to give a whole lot of detentions. And those students still failed the exam.
But this year I started by booming out that, “winners get the job done”, and “this is good for you because …”, and “come on Mr X, we want solutions not excuses, be a winner and take on the world”.
Then it was just, “hurry Mr Y, catch up or I have to punish you and I really don’t want to have to do that”.
So far, I’ve seen a good improvement. When you couch it like that, you see people want to do well, and a good leader encourages them to be the better them.
Putting it all together:
“Modeling principle-centered trustworthy behavior inspires trust without “talking it.” Pathfinding creates order without demanding it. Aligning nourishes both vision and empowerment without proclaiming them. Empowerment is the fruit of the other three.”Covey, The 8th Habit, Page 253.
And so, if you want to be a leader but you hate the old idea of being a bossy demanding leader who has to force lazy underlings to do all the crucial jobs of your organization, then consider trying some of these techniques.
I’ve just started out on a path to becoming more of a leader and I for myself these ideas are liberating. Instead of the stress and hard work of forcing people, I’m inspired by the idea that we can empower those around us and work together to achieve our goals.
Mission for Success
The mission for success is to take our life to the level of awesome. We are actively learning the lessons that will bring us more success, that will improve the future for our children and will help make the world a better place.
If that’s something you want for your life, feel free to come join the mission for success by clicking here: Mission for Success!
All the best, and remember to keep striving for success.