In an earlier post I noted that “Leadership is Not a Position” and that some people swear off their involvement in leadership. Why do some people seem eager to take the reins and some people swear off involvement or responsibility?
Here are 5 reasons why people may be holding back and what you can do about it:
- A lack of experience, and related confidence, with how to get things done within a particular organisation or system. When people don’t know how things work, they are hesitant. People may not know how to make applications for changes, not know whom they should approach, or may not know how something would work practically within a given system, so they hold back rather than find out. So, for yourself, find out. For others, show them how things work and help them to understand, so that they feel more confident leading improvements or initiatives.
- Lack of extrapolation of the consequences of inaction. Many think that, “Well, it will be okay if it doesn’t happen. I don’t have to lead it or suggest it.” You need to actually think through what will happen if you don’t do something. It’s also an important element to persuading others. Seeing what problems or disasters may loom through inaction can be very motivating – for you and everyone else.
- They have been repeatedly blocked in the past. “What’s the point of trying to do anything? Other people will just keep blocking it … it happens again and again. I’m done!” That kind of hopelessness can only be cured through encouragement and walking alongside others. Either be the ally others need, or find the allies for yourself. Beware: if this is happening with the people under you, your organisation is in huge trouble. If this is happening to someone’s ‘team’, then it’s time to reassess the position of the person in charge, because they’re not leading, they’re tackling.
- They lack confidence, or experience, in seeing the successful results of their own ideas in action. Whether you’ve never experienced it in your development, or whether you’ve been humiliated or laid low by failures, knowing that your ideas will bear fruit is important to your desire to lead. If your big projects have failed, then it’s time to take on smaller ones and see them succeed again. What projects? Well, think about very small ones and approach them from an angle that people don’t usually think of: that of a systems failure, of a customer, a competitor, an antagonist or a bizarre situation. How would you mess it up, or how would you find a chink or a way to improve it? Come up with a solution and see it implemented. Keep doing this and see your confidence (or that of your people) blossom.
- They are suffering from low self-esteem or sense of futility due to perceived rejection. Perhaps they’ve been demoted, or come from another position or company. Perhaps they had a hard time winning or keeping the role they have and just don’t think they’re worth it. Contemplate their background before rushing to a judgement as to their worth – or yours.
Of course, as I noted in my points, these apply to ourselves as much as to others.
Make the choice now: will you hold back or will you lead and what will you do about it today?
© 2014 Peter J. McLean
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