You Can Lead An Employee To Water But You Can’t Make Them Think

One of the many, many differences between management and leadership is this:

Management is about telling people what’s what.

It’s intellectual and factual.

Here’s the process for this and the expected standards for that.

Leadership is about inspiring people and motivating them.

It’s emotional, maybe even – if you’re inclined to think this way – spiritual. Why not, right? Because, in many ways, the best leaders are like priests, prophets and gurus.

Leaders share their vision and inspire their people to see it too.

To crave it like a drowning person craves air.

This is why you can’t achieve leadership through ordering people around. Even the military – the very symbol of “ordering people around” – knows this. The leaders who lean on their rank don’t have soldiers willing to fight and die for them.

There’s only one way to get that:

By earning their trust.

Trust, like everything else that occurs in someone else’s head, isn’t something you can directly influence. Your employees see the world through their own filters, distortions, biases, omissions and confusions.

You are, ultimately, just another signal in a universe buzzing with noise.

So you can’t reprogram people to make them act differently.

You can’t order change.

All you can do is influence someone to make the change themselves.

(I say “all”, as if that isn’t the most powerful thing in the world… )

If you want your change initiative to succeed, then you can’t think of the plan first, people second. That’s backwards. No matter how good the plan, it won’t run without your people.

If you start with your people, though, something interesting happens.

As any psychologist can tell you, questions are powerful. A question is not something that calls for an answer – it’s something that calls for thinking. Asking the right question can inspire entire new lines of thought.

In my work as a coach and hypnotist, I see this all the time. You’d be amazed at how effective a question like, “what do you need to do differently in order to solve this problem?” can be.

And so that brings us to the questions you ask your people.

What needs to change?

In an ideal organisation, what does a typical day look like?

How can we get from where we are to where we need to be?

What do you need from me?

All such powerful questions. Even as a simple thought experiment, this can inspire the change all on its own.

But when you take the answers to those questions, feed them into a plan and chase their implementation?

My goodness, you have a potent cocktail in your hands.

The best way to enhance your organisation is with the ultimate advantage: trust.

But how do you measure something like that, let alone improve it?

Especially if your workforce is stretched thin, cynical and burned out on change?

There are simple, effective and proven strategies you can begin implementing today. I know you can unlock the creativity, productivity and joy of your employees.