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How to Lead Those Who Don’t Want to Follow

3) Exercise flexibility on the how, but hold firm on the what.

It often appears like someone is “bucking the system” or always going against the organizational grain, but they might just be exercising a leader’s prerogative to get the job done the best way they can.

Give as much freedom as you can on how your leaders accomplish their goals and get things done, but hold very firm on the what and why.

It’s when someone is inefficient in their work habits strategy or fails to get their job done that you begin to prescribe the how through coaching. At that point, it must be certain they are willing to follow.

Habits and patterns reveal much.

If someone consistently seems to resist your leadership or run contrary to team culture, especially without being productive in light of the vision, it’s time for very candid and direct conversations that result in positive change.

4) Improve the relational chemistry as much as you can.

When your team knows you care about them, you have their best interest at heart, and it’s obvious you are investing in them, they are highly likely to want to follow you.

Candidly, when I know a leader believes in me, has my best interest in mind, and invests in me becoming a better leader, I’ll climb mountains to make things happen and advance the vision. Wouldn’t you?

Cultivating great relational team chemistry involves an intentional team culture, clear expectations, having fun, open communication, high trust, and giving the benefit of the doubt.

5) Ask your leaders to deliver a better way or show them a better way.

It’s OK for good leaders to do it their way, as long as the end result is actually better, not just different.

Ask your leaders to make things better, and if they can’t, show them how. That’s a great way to earn followership.

One of the most sincerely motivating things you can say to a leader is “make us better.” That communicates belief, value, and trust.

And when they do, be sure to give them the credit!

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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.