Most people feel the leader’s #1 job is to get people to follow them.
After all, they might think, a leader without followers is… just a dude (or dudette) standing out in a field, all alone.
Thus, most leadership ideas relate to the acquisition and use of power, influence, and manipulation.
At one extreme you have dictators who ‘lead’ through threats, intimidation, and fear. And, that works sometimes.
It’s possible to scare people into taking action, in the same way, you can get a dog to move by kicking it across the room.
But I’ve become aware of another pattern in my own work, which looks different, but I fear it has the same goal.
See, I’ve long believed that I should build good relationships, and a few years ago I found a leadership theory that played out the positive impact of good relationships with the people who work for you.
But, lately, I’ve been wondering why good relationships were important to me. Is it because I wanted to be liked? Or, didn’t want to be a jerk?
As I search my heart, I have to admit that at least some of the time, those good relationships were built so I could ask more of people.
So that I could “inspire” them to get more done.
Or, so they would accept the orders I gave.
Or maybe, so I would feel like a “good boss.”
All of that sounds a lot like ‘manipulation through kindness’, which might be more pleasant than threats and intimidation, but is still manipulation none the less.
I’m not saying this was always my intention, but I’m not sure I trust my assessment of my intentions at this point.
About two months ago I stumbled on the term ‘Relational Leadership’, which has been challenging to me in very positive ways. I’ll be telling you about it more soon, and working through the ideas in public.
In the meantime, I wonder: have you seen yourself taking this approach?
And, how do you feel when others take it with you?
Looking forward to hearing back from ya,