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Leading vs. Driving People


I define effective leadership as creating a positive sustained result through others. As a mentor and coach, it is ALL about results.

Question: Are you getting the sustained, consistent results you want in your organization?

Your leadership may not be producing the results you desire because you are driving and not leading your team. DRIVING occurs from behind, is high intensity, and often involves incentives and punishment. LEADING occurs from the front as the leader goes first, is inviting, and based on inspiring the heart and emotion through service.

To DRIVE people to change, you must exert sustained pressure until a change of habit occurs. This old-style management often shows up as micromanagement. It is in your face, shoot and run, hard driving, my-way or the highway. Such managers swoop in, invade and blast out orders, then return later to pick up the pieces and start another hiring process from the attrition. This management style creates significant employee stress and turnover, and those who do stay suppress their creativity and opinions. This style is the survival of the fittest. The leader recruits anyone with a pulse and allows the rigorous environment to sort out a few good survivors. This DRIVING style produces a level of results, but overall does not optimize outcomes. It creates a harsh, stressful environment.

There is an alternative evolved inside/out inspirational style of leadership. It involves direct, kind confrontation of problems and high accountability. The leader attacks problems, not people. You really can’t force anyone to do anything, and you can’t change them. In this style, you provide a clear vision, purpose, process and create objective agreements. You invite team members to fully embrace the vison, purpose and agreements or leave the organization. Recruitment consists of hiring only the people who get it, want it, and have the capacity to do it. This eliminates the need to micromanage and police behavior. Instead, the leader focuses on building relationships and creating agreements. He seeks to inspire team members and draw out their strengths by knowing and understanding them. The leader’s role is to provide clarity and accountability based on objective measurement. He then serves the team by providing resources so they can fulfill their role in achieving the shared goals and vision. The leader’s function is to plug people into their strengths. It is the follower’s role to respond and honor the agreements. The goals and agreements become the “heavy”, and the leader’s role is to support the team members in their execution of their responsibilities.

Though this leadership style is kinder, the accountability and results are higher. The workplace culture is more optimistic, low drama, and collaborative. This approach elicits full participation from each team member and treats them as a whole person. This philosophy requires a focus on leadership development versus blaming the team. It requires leaders to lead. They must develop excellent communication skills and become great at relationships.

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