This is a conundrum. How do we lead people that have no desire to follow us?
You may have falsely assumed, as I did, the title of leader created some kind of magnanimous force-field around us that compelled others to enthusiastically jump in line behind us.
Maybe you just took a management position at a new firm and are surrounded by disgruntled human beings? Maybe you are just on a team in which everyone wants to lead and no one wants to follow. Whatever the case, we have or will be in situations in which we are trying to lead, but seemingly spinning our tires, getting no traction, because some people do not want to be led.
Of course we need to remember, most people have never been led well.
They have, however, been manipulated, rejected, confused, disrespected, and let down by figureheads in their lives that called themselves leaders. Leading others is a difficult, messy, and fuzzy job. If leadership is thrust upon you, do not accept it without first realizing that it is the most challenging task you will ever undertake and at many points you will be attempting to lead people that do no want to be led.
So how should we proceed? If no one is listening, no one is showing us any sign of respect, and they even look elsewhere to be led all the while ignoring us, HOW SHOULD WE LEAD?
Here is the profoundly simple answer you were not hoping for: We must follow.
We have made leadership the antidote to the virus of greed, power, and pride. Truth be told, many narcissists are hiding in leader’s clothing.
Take a deep breath, close your eyes, hold your nose, throw your head back, and swallow your pride pill. It will be good for you, because when you reopen your eyes, you may just see many opportunities around you to follow.
Some people do not want to follow you, because they do not trust or respect you. Nor have they grown to trust and respect the team to which you collectively belong. This may or may not be your fault, but the only way around the wall they have built up, is to serve them by following.
The greatest part of this process is that though they can keep from following you, they cannot keep you from following them!
The key to followership is simple: “Look and listen for opportunities to serve one another, thereby proving your allegiance and respect for your fellow human being.”
In other words, listen to their goals and then help them achieve their goals, with no expectation they will return the favor. Yes it will be an awkward and lengthy process, but will gradually lead to them removing their wall, block by block.
I know this sounds a little hokey, but if you are still reading this, you may just be desperate enough to try something different! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So swallow a few more pride pills and see where following leads you.
We’re excited to provide staffing Atlanta with companies that have great leaders who know how to follow. Connect with us today!