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5 Tips for Leading Strong-Willed People

Have you ever tried to lead someone who didn’t want to be led? The same children that were labeled “strong-willed” by their parents often grow up to be strong-willed adults. Perhaps you know one…perhaps you are one. (I know one personally…me!)

I believe leadership should be individualized for the needs of the follower. With that in mind, here are 5 tips for leading strong-willed people.

1. Give clear expectations – People respond best when they know what is expected of them, especially those with strong opinions of their own.

2. Be consistent – Strong-willed people need boundaries. They will test them, but they want to know what the limits of their freedom.

3. Give freedom within the boundaries – Once the guidelines and expectations are established, allow followers to express themselves freely within them.

4. Pick your battles – Don’t cross a strong-willed person for issues of little importance to the overall vision of the organization. If you back them into a corner…they may bite.

5. Respect their opinions and individualities – Strong-willed people ultimately want to be heard (as all people do), but they resist most when their voice is silenced. Learn what matters to them and give credence to their opinions.

What tips do you have for leading strong-willed people? Are you one? How do you like to be led?  

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Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.