I’ve met a number of leaders who get upset when they give an order and people don’t obey it immediately. They think when you are a leader, if you tell people what to do, they should blindly submit.
The reality is that most people don’t like to be told to do something. They like to be involved in decisions. That’s why I talk about servant leadership being a better way of leading than top-down, command-and-control leadership. Here’s a big distinction:
Servant leaders don’t command people to obey; they invite people to follow.
Servant leaders know people want to be part of the team. They invite their people to follow them in a side-by-side working relationship that the people have had a part in creating.
Making Common Sense Common Practice
If you want people to follow your leadership invitation, take the following steps:
- Focus on we more than me.
- Continually let team members know why they are important and how they can contribute to the success of the team.
- Use your language wisely, as it makes a difference when talking to team members. “Would you mind?” comes across as an invitation. “Do this for me” sounds more like a command.
- Say the words please and thank you; they are always welcome in any relationship.
Anytime you are seeking to influence the behavior of another person with the intent of getting something done, you are engaging in leadership. So whether you are a team member, supervisor, middle manager, or top executive, you’ll be more effective if you practice these steps.
Leading by command and position doesn’t work. To make a difference in the world, you need to act in a way that inspires people to follow your lead.
“Servant Leaders Don’t Command People to Obey, They Invite People to Follow” is Simple Truth #21 in the new book I’ve coauthored with Randy Conley, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust. It’s on sale now at your favorite bookstore or online retailer. Go here to download an eBook summary for a sneak preview!