It’s most likely that you see people who are leading and have turned the definition of leadership upside down from their style of leadership. You will be quick to call them leaders because they have some form of power or position but they are not really acting as leaders. What they are trying to do is to rule.
If you are a leader you need to first settle it in your mind that you really have to lead – convince people to be a part of what you want to do or influence them to want to be a part of it. You can put your position in the face of the people and conclude that you are already leading.
The way to lead is not to shove instructions down the throat of the people and you think that you are leading. When you try to shove instructions down the people’s throats, you will notice that many of the instructions will not be carried out or they may be executed in different ways. At the end of the day it will amount to the fact that nothing has be done but time and resources have been spent.
Maybe you have only been leading as a result of your position or the power given to you. I should tell you that most of the people who are compelled to follow your instructions will be eager to see you leave when it’s time for you to vacate the position. They simply see you as an instructor or a boss. They have no connection with you whatsoever.
You have to start engaging the people that you lead and make them feel like you can’t lead without their cooperation. And that’s really the truth. When the followers don’t cooperate you cannot lead because you already have a rebellion.
So how do you engage the people that you are supposed to lead? First I want you to note that your power is not in the position or power that you think you were given. Your power as a leader is in the people. Your power is in the influence that you have over the people you are leading. If you do not have any charisma in front of those you are leading or a place in their hearts then you can’t lead them.
I’ll buttress that and make another point with a short story. A man was made the leader of a team and he tried to start leading the team without trying to find out who these people were. He would go into meetings with them and try to dominate the meetings but his efforts were frustrated. After a while he noticed that there’s a person in that meeting that all the others would easily follow if that person speaks up against him. When that person agrees with him then he has no problem.
What was happening was he was sitting in the position of the leader but there was someone else who occupied an ordinary seat and was actually leading the people. So the leader became humble and had a personal meeting with this guy who could determine the direction of things from where he was. As soon as he won that person over, it became easier for him to lead the team.
He also adopted a different strategy. He stopped coming to meetings with already prepared decisions on what to do. He simply talked about what needs to be done and asked the people what they thought. So he ended of having the opinion of the people in his finical decision. That way, the people felt they were engaged and they followed as he led.
To engage as you lead you must:
Know the people you are trying to lead.
Understand what works for them.
Seek their opinion. Let everyone have a say. It does not mean you must take it.
Remind followers of their importance to every process and prove it.
Step back once in a while and lead from behind.
Show them the vision and let them buy into it.
Where it is possible, let them be a part of developing the strategy to achieve it.
It’s easier to lead when you engage people. If you try to do it alone you will be frustrated and at the end you will think that your followers are not cooperating. You have just been told an easier way to make them cooperate so go and make it happen in your business, organisations or even family. Engage and lead better.
Fola Daniel Adelesi
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