Leadership means sometimes you have to move large groups of sometimes inanimate objects such as people and institutions in a forward direction. As a leader you are often a “pusher”. But you have to remember that when pushing people – somebody is going to push back from time to time!
Although there may be more, there are at least four approaches:
Consider the Swift Approach
Some leaders believe that it is incumbent upon them to move swiftly when they come into a new position. They are often heard to say things like; “You gotta strike while the iron is hot!”
These leaders are not bad. They are not necessarily impatient as you may suspect. They just feel a strong mandate and see now as an opportune time to move. They feel that it is incumbent upon them to lead with speed.
One of the problems with this style of leadership is that those who employ it often do not take the time on the front end to build consensus among the other leaders and among the followers. And that mistake can poison the potential for change in the coming days.
Consider the Slow Approach
Some leaders err on the side of moving way to slowly. They believe that their followers will only respond to their vision for advancing forward by moving at a turtle’s pace.
These leaders are not bad. They are not necessarily risk averse. But they often over-analyze an opportunity and miss the chance to take advantage of it altogether. And an opportunity lost does not often concern them.
One of the problems with this style of leadership is that it is hard to build momentum due to the inertial power and drag of the organization at rest. And that mistake can seem like a lack of commitment or vision and lead to overall complacency.
Consider the Insecure Approach
Some leaders err on the side of being unsure about the need to push forward. This is one of the most dangerous stances a leader can have. Nature and all organizations abhor a vacuum. And when an organization senses the leader is unsure or insecure, then often another leader will rise up and that leader may take the restless organization in the wrong direction.
These leaders are not inherently bad either. But they are dangerous and all too often perceived as weak. They often are symptomatic of a leader who lacks confidence, faith and courage. It does take a steady hand to steer a great ship. But, that hand must steer and not simply rest on the wheel.
Consider the Strong and Confident Approach
Truly great leaders know that when they have communicated the vision, they have been clear about the direction they would like to take, they have laid out the tactical approach they want to take, and having built some consensus, then the organization will almost literally “Push” THEM forward. The organization will have become convinced that this new direction is needed for the continued success, greater growth and improved stability of the organization.
Here is where you will find the really great leaders. These leaders will have stored up a significant “bank account” of trust and good will among those in the organization. There will be a willingness to follow even into uncharted territory because of the power of the leader.
But what if you are a new leader in the organization? Consider going first to the other leaders and all those that you think will be open and supportive of your plan. Doing so will build a little momentum and you can utilize the leadership of those folks around you to be influencers within their circle of influence.
It doesn’t take much leadership ability to influence those who already believe or to convince those that like you on a personal level. The art of being a great leader is in finding ways to engage the naysayers and the doubters. When correctly executed the organization almost seems to feel it was their own idea.
So what is the message for you as a leader?
I think the message that we can receive from this is that great leaders may from time to time actually perform a little like Hares, Tortoises, Hesitators and Leaders. There are times when time will be of the essence. There will be times when patience is the key. There will be times when we need to be cautious and extra analytical. But the leaders are able to push the organization without the organization pushing back. And truly great leaders are able to lead in such a way that the organization seems to be pulling the leader!
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