How to Lead People Who Don’t Want to Be Led – Micheal Gilmore

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Have you ever wondered why leadership was necessary? The leader provides vision, direction, and motivation for the team. They generate an emotional and collaborative connection within the team. They attract good workers and engage them to put efforts in a common cause.

The only problem is: there are people who resist leadership, no matter how great the leader is. They passively refuse to take part into the positive flow. You want to motivate them, but they get stuck. What do you do? Do you just fire them? No. You try to understand them. These people can be brilliant achievers. You just need to adjust your style, so you’ll achieve the goals you aim for.

Lilly Smith, a team leader at ResumesPlanet, explains: “Throughout my work as a team leader, I’ve encountered people who resisted the encouragement I was trying to give. There are always a few bad apples. Their attitude is horrible. For example, I send them an email with tips on how to improve their work. The email is not criticizing at all. It’s more like you’re doing well, but here are few tips that will make your work even better. No response. The writer simply ignores my message and makes no changes to their work. With time, I realized it was me. They were under-performing because they were under-led. So I took this more authoritative approach and it worked.”

Taking a more authoritative approach works in some cases. In others, it may only make things worse. What do you do? Are there any tested and proven strategies for leading people who don’t want to be led? We have a list of tips for you.

  1. Analyze Your Leadership Style

If you have more than one team member who’s not following your lead, it’s not them. It’s probably you. Discover the reasons why people resist your leadership. Are you disorganized? Inconsistent? Too harsh on them? Not authoritative enough?

If you want people to follow you, this is the first step to make: turn yourself into a better leader. Yes, some of them will still resist you. When you improve your leadership style, however, there will be fewer of those workers and it will be easier to deal with them.

  1. Set Clear Goals and Expectations

Why do some of your workers under-perform? Ask yourself: are they aware of the performance standards? If you haven’t set clear goals and expectations, you can’t expect them to read your mind.

A leader has to clarify what a good job looks like. When you do that, you’ll be able to explain what went wrong with those who failed to deliver. Give constant feedback based on those standards. Define what acceptable behavior is and tell your workers when they violate those limits.

  1. Create the Culture of Respect

Disagreement is not the same thing with disrespect. Disagreement is allowed in your team. In fact, it’s much appreciated when it’s constructive. Disrespect, however, should never be allowed. That attitude usually comes from those people who don’t want to be led.

How do you establish respectful culture as the core of your leadership style? Start from yourself. Value everyone’s opinion and let them share it. When you notice that someone is disrespectful towards you or the other members of the team, warn them about that attitude. High-performance partnerships are based on listening, appreciation, and respect.

  1. Focus on the Results; Not the Method

No one wants to work under a dictatorship. People won’t be motivated if you obsess over how and when things get done. You can focus on what needs to be done instead. Of course you’ll set some deadlines and you’ll give broad instructions. However, you must be flexible for some creativity. You have to stop counting the time your workers spend working. You should not be over their heads, monitoring every single step they make.

Focus on the difference they are making with their work. Focus on the results they are achieving. They will appreciate the space and the freedom to decide what road to take. You hired capable, smart individuals. You’ll be surprised with what they can achieve if you’re a bit more flexible with the way they do it.

  1. Appreciate the Good Stuff

“Good job!” That’s all you need to say when someone achieves satisfactory results. It’s okay to provide recommendations for improvements when necessary. However, it’s also necessary to show your appreciation for a job well done.

Thank your workers specifically. If they resist your leadership, they will start accepting you more when they see you appreciate their efforts.

Of course, you cannot fake this approval. Say “good job!” only when you really mean it. You’re still the leader. You can’t take your leadership to a servile degree.

Every single member of your team matters. You want them to achieve good results, but you also want them to be happy with the job they have. To achieve that goal, you need to learn how to deal with those people who don’t want to be led. There’s a way to turn the situation around. Try the tips we suggested above and see what happens.

About the author:

Micheal Gilmore is a blogger and entrepreneur from Dallas, TX. He specializes in building high-performance teams and delivering great products in the least time.

Micheal is also a passionate career advisor and facilitator. His life is fully dedicated to the people.

You can catch Micheal on Twitter.