The Push and Pull of Leadership

Ugh…I love this quote so much from “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“:

Look at the weaknesses of others with compassion, not accusation. It’s not what they’re not doing or should be doing that’s the issue. The issue is your own chosen response to the situation and what you should be doing. If you start to think the problem is “out there,” stop yourself. That thought is the problem.

This reminded me of a conversation I had years ago with a principal who was complaining about their teachers not coming along. As he complained, I asked, “If you are the leader and they are not moving forward, could the issue be with you and not with them?”

The comment was not to lay blame but to remind the principal that leadership was about leading.  How good of a leader can one be if no one is ready to follow?

Instead of laying blame on others on why they won’t move forward, ask questions, get to know where they are coming from, and go to them.  Leadership is both push and pull.  It is not about getting someone to jump from A to Z, but finding out where the point A is, what that looks like, and sometimes walking beside them to help them build confidence and competence along the way to get to that point B.  After that, point C doesn’t seem so bad.

Of course, this is not to say the individual doesn’t have a responsibility for their growth either.  But understand, you cannot change anyone. You can only create the conditions where change is more likely to happen.

Just remember that the next time you get frustrated with someone seemingly not moving forward, don’t try to figure out what is wrong with them or their attitude. Figure out what you can do to support them on their journey.  Complaining about what is wrong will never make it right.

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Source: George Couros