Have you ever tried to lead a group of people, but the people did not want to follow? Did it seem like they didn’t see the benefits of getting on board with your goals and direction? I think it is human nature for leaders to strive to lead their people toward greater results. And I also think it is common for leaders to encounter some push-back from their people. Here’s the good news, there is an effective way to minimize this resistance and establish a high level of engagement in any team. And the solution is available to every leader!
First, some more insight into human nature: People want to be heard and understood by their leader. A popular quote, often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt and John Maxwell illustrates my point:
Now, this concept may seem elementary, but elementary truths offer the greatest gain while often hiding “in plain sight” of our current awareness. I started to understand this way of thinking during a leadership workshop by Jim Lundy. Jim encouraged the workshop attendees to maintain and enhance relationships as we drove for results. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was teaching a participative leadership style, an approach that I now call Engage2Lead™.
First Action Step
My first action step from the workshop was to create a mission statement for our company. A few weeks later, I called a company-wide meeting to introduce our mission statement.
During the meeting, I explained to our people the meaning behind the statement and asked if they had any questions or suggestions to improve it. Since there were few questions and little discussion, I figured that they understood and were in agreement with the mission statement.
Next, I set out to find a printing company to design the layout and print copies to distribute throughout our company.
A Mentor’s Visit
A few days later, Jim, my friend and a long-time mentor, stopped by my office to see how I was doing on my action steps from the workshop. I shared with great excitement that I had completed my first one.
I showed Jim the mission statement that I’d created, explained how I had called a company-wide meeting to introduce it, how I’d shared the meaning behind it with our employees, and how, since there had been few questions and little discussion, I was going to have copies printed for everyone.
Jim was excited as well. However, he suggested that, before going to the printer, I go back to our people one more time for any questions or suggestions to improve the mission statement.
I was surprised by his suggestion. I had already met with everyone, and it seemed too costly to bring everyone together again. He said he understood, but again suggested going back to our team one more time. He had one of those “just trust me” looks on his face. So I did.
Second Company Meeting
A few days later, we scheduled another company-wide meeting for our people to look over the mission statement so they could ask questions and make suggestions for improvements.
During this second meeting, questions and suggestions all of a sudden came out of the woodwork. People really got engaged and had some very good suggestions. I walked out of the meeting feeling that everyone—and I mean everyone—truly understood our mission statement.
Third Company Meeting
In fact, since the second meeting went so well, I called a third company-wide meeting after making the suggested changes to show them to the employees.
There was even more discussion for understanding, and a few more good suggestions were made. It was amazing how excited our people were over this. And I was excited to see everyone so engaged with the process.
This was the first time that I could say every employee company-wide was of one voice and on the same page. At that meeting, I finally understood the concept of participative leadership – what I call Engage2Lead™.
At first, I was only focusing on the results of having a mission statement so I could check it off my list of action steps. But Jim helped me understand the importance of maintaining and enhancing relationships between me and our people and also between each of our people.
By encouraging our people to be actively involved in the decision, we built a peak performance TEAM that achieved the results we desired.
And if you want to build a TEAM that moves forward together toward your goals, understanding and implementing this concept of participative leadership – Engage2Lead™ – is a great start.
I have much more to share about Engage2Lead™. Stay tuned for more blog posts on this important topic.
Why do you think we tend to overestimate the value of the results we want to accomplish and underestimate the value of the relationships we need to enhance to build a team? Can you identify one way that you can tap the power of participative leadership with your team today? Please share your comments <here> and share this blog post with friends and co-workers.