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How to Lead Those Who Don’t Want to Follow

Keep in mind that a dissenting opinion, a disagreement about the course of action, or pushing a creative idea that’s out of the box doesn’t mean the person is difficult or doesn’t want to follow; it might mean they are a leader.

Good leaders have their own thoughts, ideas, and ways to solve problems. It’s up to those of us who lead leaders to harness all that into a healthy and productive team.

6 practices to better lead those who don’t want to follow:

1) Utilize the lens of “different,” not “difficult.”

We do have to deal with difficult people at times.

Those who demonstrate traits such as chronically pushy, don’t listen well, only see things their way, can’t control their emotions, won’t change, have major blind spots, etc.

Candidly, however, they are by far in the minority of the kind of person you would have chosen for your team.

It’s more often the case that the person thinks differently than you do, and because of that can seem difficult.

As long as the leader embraces your team values, staff culture, and the overall vision, thinking differently from others often adds great value and increases progress.

2) Redirect sideways energy in the right direction.

Someone who doesn’t want to follow, or it appears like they don’t, maybe wasting sideways energy and therefore wasting time and resources.

If a person on your team is burning sideways energy, don’t kill their drive; redirect it in a more productive direction.

Make sure they are aligned with the vision, and their chemistry fits in the culture, then empower them to lead, as long as it’s in the right direction.

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Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together.