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Stop Controlling

What is the difference between leading someone and controlling people?  Does it matter?  Have you given up on leadership when you resort to control?  I can’t influence people, so I choose instead to manage them.  I am going to dissect these concepts to provide you with clarity in the end.

Let’s revisit management 101.  These concepts were born during the era of scientific management.  Frederick Taylor (known as the father of scientific management) was just one of several critical thinkers in managing other humans.  His industrial management system has influenced virtually every country enjoying the benefits of the modern industry.  Planning, organizing, leading, and controlling are the framework for modern management.  Planning is about strategy and goals; organizing is about design and culture, and leadership is about influence and motivation.  Controlling is about systems and processes.  We are going to explore the relationship between leading and managing.

Do you ever think, “If I could control these people, I could guarantee results”?  Controlling humans is an illusion.  You can’t control anyone, including those that report to you.  You cannot control whether your teenager wears a seatbelt when you are not in the car.  Most people struggle with self-control.

When it comes to other humans, we must rely on influence.  We can influence others.  The word influence is the essence of leadership.  Any credible definition of leadership must contain influence.  When we influence others’ behavior, we are leading them.  Some of the most influential leaders in history changed humanity without control. 

The number of people you can influence depends on the size of your platform.  Your platform size is the number of people who know you and your ability to reach those people.  Consider this formula; platform equals network times reach (Platform = Network x Reach).  A larger platform means you can influence more people.

According to Michael Hyatt, there are four ways to grow your influence with others:

  1. Focus on yourself.  “If we could change ourselves,” Gandhi said, “the tendencies in the world would also change. Saint Seraphim of Sarov said, “Save yourself, and you will save a thousand around you.” Modeling is the most potent form of teaching known to man. If you aren’t “walking your talk,” you dramatically lessen your influence.
  2. Take the initiative. Whiners are passive. They sit back and complain. Real leaders don’t have time to play the blame-game. They look for opportunities to take the initiative and take action. Remember, total ownership means it is always your fault as the leader.
  3. Cast the vision. Often people don’t do what we want because we have not invested the time to paint the picture. People want a challenge; to do something significant. They are eager! Your job is to give them a compelling vision of a new reality.
  4. Appreciate the effort. Everyone is a volunteer, including the people who report to you. If you don’t appreciate them, someone else will. People want to give their best effort to those who notice.

It might be easy if the whole world was ready to do our bidding as leaders.  However, that’s not an option, nor is it desirable.  For maximum engagement, we need others to “buy-in” to our ideas and strategies.  Buy-in leads to the discretionary effort, and it derives more success than the required effort.  You pay others for the “required” effort.  They choose to give you “discretionary” effort.

Another way to lead others is to use the nudge theory.  [Nudge Theory is a... 

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