You Cannot Lead a Person From Where You Stand

You Cannot Lead a Person From Where You Stand

Today is the first installment of our five part series on Leadership for June.  Hope you find this glimpse into the need for Leadership in every organization, and how to discern Leadership from Management.






A head full of what you want will get in the way of providing leadership.  Your vision, mission and objectives are wonderful and necessary to your success.  They are, however, only a tool of leadership and not leadership itself.

You can’t lead a person from where you stand; you can only lead them from where they stand.

If you can fill your head with what they see and fill your heart with what they feel, then, and only then, can you lead them to their best next step and lead them to feeling great about taking it.  I was once taught that there are two kinds of convincing; I can convince you of something or your can convince yourself of something.  If I convince you, it might not stick. If you convince yourself, it’s more likely to stick!

Leadership, like sales, is a form of convincing.  I may sell you my vision but, if you buy your own vision it is much more compelling.  If I set aside my vision and understand where you are, and help you build your own vision then you will work towards that vision of your own accord.

Leadership, like sales, is about setting aside what I want to sell and finding out what you want to buy and then professionally helping you to buy it.  If I have a great vision, it becomes a tool in this process.  I begin by understanding you and helping you to understanding what you want.  If I can then lead you to see how our visions are compatible, how our paths are congruent then I won’t have to constantly cajole and reinforce to keep my vision in your head.  Your vision will provide the pull.

If you find that your and their visions are incompatible; that is a good thing.  Finding this out early will save a great deal of time and pain.  That is one example of a favorite ActionCOACH teaching; Slow down to speed up.  Taking the time to really understand your team takes effort and shows serious commitment.  Investing time early to find serious deep level disagreement can prevent a fatal fracture later on – don’t end up training and creating your competition.

Investing this level of energy up front saves you time.  My favorite business book, Good to Great makes the point that your most valuable asset is the right people in the right seat.  I’ve seen companies invest gobs of time and money trying to get the team to buy-in to the company vision.  It’s painfully often fruitless.  The team eventually begins to joke about the company’s great vision.  It is just not their own.  The right people are the ones whose vision is compatible with yours and whose path is congruent with yours.  They will fight to stay beside you on their path.

Lead them from where they stand and try not to get in their way.


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