Monthly Archives: November 2012

Leaders Let People Do, Not Follow

No one wants to be a back seat driver forever.

That is a fact.

There are many kinds of leaders with differing opinions on this simple fact:

Those who gain their authority from the structure of an organization—a boss, a manager, a supervisor

Others, however, seem to gain this type of authority almost organically.

If you want to be in this second category, you have to embrace a different mindset about how you motivate and conceive of the people you lead.

People naturally want to do things, they want autonomy, and they want the freedom to do things on their own. Most organizations stifle this type of behavior by citing rules and policies that compartmentalize tasks, enforce constant observation, and reinforce the feeling that workers are naturally deficient and are not to be trusted.

By letting people do things on their own, you suggest that you trust them, and this in turn makes them WANT to follow you. It is very easy to derive authority from the fact that you occupy a post on a higher level of a hierarchy, but this does not make a leader. True leaders CREATE their own authority by promoting a shared vision within a company, a department, or a group and then letting those that they lead make this vision a reality.

People want to do. No one wants to be a back seat driver forever.

The Challenge of Making It New

Most of the ideas that people have are not new. They may be new to that person, or new to the situation, but so often they are reproductions of other ideas, other situations, other solutions.

There is nothing wrong with this.

We are social creatures. We learn from each other, our successes, our failures.

The challenge of this in the information age is making an old idea seem new by giving it a new context.

For example, the color RED is, for lack of a better word, RED. Nothing about this color inherently changes when we move it around, place it against other backgrounds like purple, green, or black, but our experience of it does.

Changing the context of a particular idea can help you change its overall meaning and significance.

For example, what can we learn from juxtaposing Pay-Per-Click advertising and a Kindergarten classroom, the social hierarchy of a pod of Dolphins and a team of developers launching a new product line.

By looking at things from these different perspectives, we are able to see new connections between two seemingly unrelated things. New ideas are often old ideas viewed or applied in a new context, but it is only by expanding our perspective that we are able to consider these different ideas against one another and benefit from the fruitful connections that our human brains will ultimately make between them.