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Why Your Team Won't Follow You

Written by Rebecca Okamoto on Sept. 7, 2014

"Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off" Colin Powell

I still remember Rich.

Rich was popular with the teams.

It’s been over 20 years ago, and I still remember my fellow new manager. He wore flannel shirts and jeans at the plant back in the day when we were told to “dress like managers.”

Rich looked like the technicians, spoke like them and tried very had to be their advocate. He was also fast becoming their friend. There was only one problem.

Rich had friends, but Rich had no followers.

No one wanted to follow someone who wouldn't take a stand.

While the teams liked Rich personally, as their leader he was indecisive and overly accommodating. He didn't want anyone to get angry with him. It was more important for Rich to be liked than respected, and it had a price.

Why won't your team follow you?

It's not because they don't like you.

It's because they don't know what you stand for. Your team will follow you when there is someone and something of substance to follow.

Do you want to earn respect as a leader? Here's some candid advice from Colin Powell.

Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off. [tweet this]

Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It's inevitable if you're honourable.

Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.

You'll avoid the tough decisions, you'll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, and you'll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset.

Ironically, by procrastinating on the difficult choices, by trying not to get anyone mad, and by treating everyone equally "nicely" regardless of their contributions, you'll simply ensure that the only people you'll wind up angering are the most creative and productive people in the organization.

Do you want your team to follow you or to "friend" you? [tweet this]

Make the tough call. Put their best interest first, and risk their anger. Do you know what your team wants? Your team wants follow a leader.

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