Are You A Leader, Or Are You Just Taking A Walk?

There are a number of quotes that have really stuck with me over the years, and this is one of them.  It makes me think of someone striding off determinedly into the sunset with clarity of purpose and energy for days…without having turned round at any stage to make sure that anyone was following them.

When we get a bee in our bonnet, or when we have such clarity and surety and we KNOW it’s good…occasionally we fail to check whether our team has bought in too.

So when was the last time you turned round to make sure your people were following you?  With 3 days left until our Zimbabwean elections, this seems a pertinent question to ask.

If you have any concerns about whether your team are close on your heals, here are a few considerations:

1) Have you fully explained the plan?
For people to buy into the plan, they need to fully understand it.  Gone are the days when leaders dictated the plan and everyone got busy with delivering it.  We’ve evolved as people, and to have full buy-in from your team, they must have enough information to feel secure making their own judgement calls in line with the plan.  Initially, this means people need to understand the plan fully – because the more information you draw out, the better they can assess it in terms of the following few points.

2) Have you drawn a clear picture of the destination?
People must have something to aim at that is inspiring to want to move towards.  This means explaining the reasoning behind the plan.  Where are we going and WHY are we going there?  If you want everyone to act in their strengths, you must accept that everyone has a different way of doing things.  Thus, they must know where they are aiming at long term so that they can all assess their path and arrive there together.

3) They must know WHY they are going there.
When people understand WHY you’re trying to achieve what you’re trying to achieve, they can weigh up how it overlaps with their own values.  Assuming you’re not proposing something highly irregular and questionable (which you’d expect people to feel dodgy about), then going the extra mile to explain the reasoning behind why you want to go there means people can assess how they agree with that reasoning and that the destination is valuable.  We all have slightly different value systems, and when team members can see where their values overlap with the objective, they’ll buy in.

4) Have you explained the change?
Change makes all of us uncomfortable for a gazillion reasons.  To name a few:

  • People fear not having what it takes to make the change and looking stupid as a result.
  • People fear losing the certainty they had in knowing exactly what they were doing before the plan changed.
  • People fear what the change may mean for them in terms of instability.

Have you explained what it will take from everyone; what their responsibilities will be; why you need them?  Have you made sure they have the skills and support to make the change?  Have you reassured them that they’re included in the outcome?  And if change means losing something, have you explained what it will be replaced with and how that’s better?

Leadership requires followers.  Happy followers is obviously preferable.

On that note, have a fabulous weekend, and we’ll see you on the flip side!

by Christen Killick

July 27th, 2018

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