Have you ever had the experience of being in a team meeting and felt the need to speak up but decided against it because you felt you would appear unsupportive of the leader or the team? With your desire of maintaining harmony and avoiding conflict, you decided to hold your piece. That my friend is your run-in with groupthink.
I am the kind of person who enjoys being in the presence of people who see life from my point of view. When I am with these people, I am happy, calm and in control. No tension or emotion is rising because all our conversations are agreeable. I don’t have to think outside my box because everyone is in the box with me, no disagreements. I like living like that. I suspect the same is true for you.
But if I want to grow as a person, and more so as a leader, I cannot afford to surround myself with only those who see things like I do. I must have some people around me who see things differently. People who can challenge me in my ways of thinking and doing things. This can be uncomfortable, painful and difficult. But this is necessary if you are going to grow and develop.
Leadership is first about those you lead and secondly about the results you achieve. So, are you focused on the task to be accomplished or the people under your leadership who accomplish the task? Many successful leaders will tell you that it was only when they became people-focused that they were able to achieve success.
Some leaders hold to a popular idea which says, “When you show up for work leave your personal problems at the door.” If this were possible, you would not have embezzlements, affairs, fights, drugs and alcohol abuse in the workplace. As a result of this kind of thinking, many leaders do not want to know about the personal struggles of those they lead. Very often these same leaders are seen as uncaring and demanding.
Simon Sinek, in his book on leadership Start with Why, wrote the following:
There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or authority, but those who lead inspire us. Whether they’re individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves.
One definition of influence is, “the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.”
Influence can be derived from one of two places. The one is the use of power and authority that comes with leadership to impel the behavior and opinions you want. This kind of leadership is using position and power to manipulate the outcome you desire.
Usually a leader is centered on one of three areas:
Each of those shapes your leadership style, influence, accomplishments and legacy. Here’s how:
One thing is certain of every leader, you are always influencing those you lead. In other words, you have no control over who you influence, but you can certainly determine what your influence will be. It could either be negative, demeaning, controlling, and abusive or it can be positive, uplifting, respectful and valuing.
Let us look at some key factors that are necessary to have the kind of influence that will motivate your followers to do their best work.
A few days ago, we arrived in South Africa to spend two weeks getting to know a bit about the people we will soon be living and working with. We recognize that the most essential communication skill, and one we will have to use extensively, is the skill of good listening. Listening is indispensable to good leadership. People who are genuinely listened to will feel valued, respected, and heard. And nearly always, people will trust you when they know you are truly listening to them.
A popular trend with churches is to conduct off-site meetings with their staff. This is usually a time when the staff gathers somewhere away from the physical location of where they work to focus on long-term planning, review how current plans are going, and give attention to mission, vision, strategy and team building.
The question is, how effective are these off-site meetings? Does the team come away motivated, challenged, and clear on what they are doing, why they are doing it and who is doing what? If at the end of the time away all that happened was meeting after meeting with some socializing in between, then the off-site was not a success.
Warning signs are everywhere: on medication bottles, road signs, plastic wrapping and cartons. We find them on electrical appliances, and coffee cups from convenience stores and fast food joints. Warning signs are all around, and if we ignore them the consequences can be great. We may recover from some consequences; but others allow no recovery.
For example, if you ignore the warning sign of the stop light and go when it is not your turn, you may end up in a simple fender bender with repairs easily made. Or, you might end up with serious bodily injuries from which you never fully recover. Worse yet, life may be lost by ignoring the stop light.
The sad reality is that many of us ignore warning signs until it’s too late. This does not have to be the case. We can pay better attention.