Compel Don’t Convince

“Mandate” might be the laziest word in the language of organizations.

Sure, there are times for it, and there’s certainly the case for high standards, but when the list of mandates gets too long the leadership culture becomes one of power, not strength. There are a lot of leaders who rely on the power of their role and not the strength of their personal leadership.

There’s a difference.
“See it my way” is power.
“See it our way” is strength.

What’s the difference between the two?

In this week’s email, I want to give you a three-word strategy that can help you navigate the difference.

It can help you leverage the strength of your leadership and avoid dipping too often from the well of power. And, just to be clear, there are those moments that call for the power of the role. But it’s a withdrawal every time you dip from that well. Leaders should avoid the power-up button as long as they can. It’s why mandating a decision should be the last resort.

The three-word strategy to avoid this is: Compel don’t convince.

When leaders try to convince others to follow them, they are starting from their own point of view. When leaders compel others, they lead from a shoulder-to-shoulder vantage point, casting a vision toward a brighter future, together. There’s a downside to this, though.

Convincing takes less time. “See it my way or the highway” is quick, clarifying and to the point. So is a knife — and with too many decisions like this leaders can kill their culture.

Compelling others toward a brighter future often takes more time.  But that’s what leading people requires: more time.

Convincing pushes people. It’s a shove in the back that says, “Get moving.” Compelling pulls people forward. It’s an open hand that says, “Come see what I see.”

As you think through 2022, I would encourage you to put this strategy of “Compel don’t Convince” near the top of your list for next year. Carve out time to listen more, reflect on what you hear and then create vision-casting opportunities where you pull people forward instead of pushing people from behind.

Help them to see what you see. Articulate the problem, talk about the solution and remind them that all of this is worth their time and talent.

Every time you choose to compel others in this way is an investment into your personal leadership and the culture of your organization. You’re choosing to humble yourself instead of powering up. And when the moments arrive that call you to leverage your power, you will have created so much credibility and trust, the easy option is for the team to follow.

FOR You,

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