How do you begin to get people to follow your lead? I’ve found that that answer doesn’t first come from how much I know or how well I organize. It has less to do with how motivated I am or how much I understand motivation. I’ve noticed it’s not in the strategies used for reaching objectives. All those things are especially necessary for leadership but the first thing that is absolutely necessary for beginning to lead is out of your hands. It’s in the hands of others because honestly, they choose who they want to lead them.
For someone to naturally follow your lead that person has to know two things:
1) Who they want to be (a clear image)
2) That they will become what they desired at the end of the journey with you
I had the privilege of working with a JV Baseball team in 2006 who went undefeated for the first time and I noticed certain characteristics in the coaches and players on the team that I want to share. They were competitive, relationally cohesive, and wanted to get better. I guess on JV everyone would rather be on varsity so wanting to get better was hardly a stretch. The most evident thing was their strong desire to be better than the varsity team.
What they didn’t realize in those moments was that in wanting to be better than the varsity team, they actually became just that. On a Saturday morning the JV team shocked themselves and the coaching staff by beating the varsity team in a inter-squad match-up. The JV team was better than the varsity team and they continued on the rest of the season to be the first sport team in the 41 year history of the school to go undefeated.
There is something about knowing clearly what you want that triggers your mind to begin to work hard in your favor. When you look into your heart’s mirror you must see clearly what you want to become. If you are leading that is something you have to know for yourself and something you will have to find out about the people you are deciding to lead. This must be clear!
The next thing is equally important. The people you are attempting to lead have to believe that you can bring them from where they are to what they see in their mind. This trust and belief factor is irreplaceable. Once this trust is broken, even if you know their clear desires, your voice carries no authority for directing any forward progress.
Believe or not people have a sixth sense that picks up what you know from what you don’t know so transparency will go a long way. As a leader you don’t have to know it all but it travels a long distance if you are vulnerable enough to show that you are searching and learning.
For example, as a team captain, finding great perspectives to rally the team around from elite athletes goes a longer way than you saying the exact same words. They will follow because they believe that you will find the way that they should walk in and not always because you know the way.
Working with the JV team I showed them quotes from baseball players, I gave them books to skim through from other sports psychologists and I also spoke with them one-on-one. They knew I wasn’t caught up in ego and they allowed me to show them the way to the team’s and individual peak performance.
How do you think leadership works?