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Leadership and Free Choice

When leading a) ourselves or b) others, many choices lay ahead.

For instance, when leading your team into battle against the dragon on the hilltop ... each team member is fueled by two complementary choices:

  • Their Behavior
  • Their Attitude

As leaders, it's essential to understand the differences and adapt our strategies accordingly.

Most behaviors can be controlled - team members can be poked, threatened, or cajoled into acting how we want.

  • Example: prisoners, children, pets, etc.
  • Most behaviors are not sustainable without sufficient internal motivation a/k/a a productive attitude.
  • Controlling someone's behavior takes authority, not talent.

Most attitudes can only be controlled by them - how they feel and think about what's expected of them.

  • Example: teenagers!
  • Attitudes can be positive and supportive or negative and destructive.
  • Influencing someone's attitude takes insight, finesse and leadership skill.

So, we can force march our team up a hill to the dragon's lair but we can't make them like it unless we also engage their attitude.

Or, as I learned this lesson originally: 'You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink.'

In summary ...

Whether slaying dragons, selling more widgets, or filing a report on time, strong leaders balance their influence over both choices in order to maximize results.

If you bet your team that you'd read an article today featuring dragons, horses AND leadership .. congratulations and collect your winnings!

Mike McKenna

About the author

Mike McKenna is the founder and president of TEAM Solutions. He helps public and private sector leaders improve their outcomes before, during and after a planned event or unplanned crisis.

Please contact Mike via the Contact page.

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