LEAD BY FOLLOWING

LEAD BY FOLLOWING

The qualities of the answers you receive are directly proportionate to the quality of questions you ask.

Have you thought about why managers are called leaders and not pushers? I ask this because most managers are pushers. This is why most businesses are average. There are few great companies because there are few great leaders. A pusher will force there will on their people. A leader will jump in with both feet and inspire there people to peruse the companies mission.

There are hundreds of books on how to become a great leader. I have read a lot of them. Through books and my experience I have come to a conclusion; it’s not the things we say that have the greatest impact, it’s the questions we ask. In my earlier days, I would puff my chest out and strut like I ruled the roost. I knew it all and wanted to prove it. I would manipulate people by firing leading questions so rapidly they would bow there head in defeat, or to hide their lips as they mumbled their feelings about me and my idea. I would ask questions like; How did you screw that up? or Are you qualified for this position or do I need to find someone who is? Looking back, I realized I was a jerk. All that these questions did was put people on the defense. The words you choose are important. Choose them wisely.

Over the years that my head grew balder, I realized that each time I pushed my agenda through I actually lost. What was more important to me was success and my ideas were limiting. So I began to ask different questions.

When something goes differently then you expect, ask why. Was it the system, or was the person running the system? What can you do to prevent this from happening again? Do you need to become a stronger trainer? Were you listening to your people when you implemented the system? Are you tying the hands of your people? Is it worth the effort or can you accept that two percent of the time you are not going to be able to please your client? Notice all these questions are targeted to you first?

Leading your people will require that you engage them by letting them figure out some things for themselves. Don’t scold them when things go wrong, challenge them by asking some engaging questions. If you had my full support and unlimited resources, what would you do? This does not mean you give them full support and unlimited resources, you would likely go brook if you did. But listen to them, find the holes in their idea, assuming there are some, and ask them how they would deal with that.

Sometimes a great leader has to be a great follower. When your people have ideas that are better than yours, get your hands dirty and learn how they are doing it. Yes it might be uncomfortable learning how to book a call, close an invoice or make a sale but the gains from doing so are overwhelming. You will become more in tune to how different departments overlap, and your companies inefficiencies. This alone should be a large enough incentive, but the real gain will come from the leader you will become. When learning the details of a position that has evolved 3 times over since you started your business. You have to become humble and ask a lot of questions. It is not possible to be a pusher in this role. You will become a better leader by following from time to time.

There is an old illustration that to lead you must pull the rope because you can’t get anywhere pushing it. I disagree. So, if you think that it is not possible to push a rope, I challenge you to ask your staff how to do it. Get a 5 foot rope, stretch it out on the floor and tell them that they have to come in thirty minutes early every day until they figure out how to push a rope. Not only will you get an answer quickly, you will get a perfect visual of a well run business.

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