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How to Lead Those Who Don’t Want to Follow


Leadership is rewarding and definitely worth it, but let’s be honest, there are many days when it’s no picnic.

Typically, those days have something to do with human conflict.

Would you agree?

And one of the most tension-filled situations involving conflict is attempting to lead someone who doesn’t want to follow you. So when that happens, do you know what to do?

Start with “Why?”

There are many possible scenarios such as:

  • You are following (replacing) a beloved boss or volunteer leader.
  • You are leading someone who is older with more experience than you.
  • You made changes they didn’t like.
  • Your style is different than what they are accustomed to.

The best leaders take a moment for a “self-check.” That’s always wise before we consider someone to be a “difficult” person.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do they trust you?
  2. Do they like you?
  3. Do they respect you?
  4. Have you made the expectations clear?
  5. Are you investing in them so they can become a better leader?

NOTE: These questions are not meant to doubt you or your leadership. In fact, my assumption is that you are leading well. The point is that their perspective matters, even if it’s not entirely accurate.

However, if you answer no to any of these questions, focus on resolving that first.

The truth is that the best leaders can lead those who don’t want to follow, those who think differently, and even those who are at times difficult.