Leadership is much more about leading people’s minds than leading their actions.
“What?!”, I can hear you scream. “Leading people’s minds, that’s indoctrination, manipulation! Haven’t we got enough of that in politics and marketing? Now you’re going to encourage manipulation in the workplace? I’m outta here!”
Hear me out.
As leader, you spend a significant amount of your time inside the minds of others. You are figuring out how they feel, what’s on their mind, what they want, whether they are focused, interested, resistant, annoyed. This ranges from your team members to your clients, vendors, and senior managers.
You may be flooded with requests to review content, work results, sign papers, approve budgets, review performance and provide updates. That’s content.
But as leader, your main job is to facilitate the group of people you are working with toward the declared goal of the organization, team or project. That’s process.
So let’s start by shifting your attention from content to process.
With any given stakeholder group, you are faced with a bunch of mixed emotions and dynamics. One person is longing for detail and structure, another for the drama and action, a third the satisfaction of a quick win, another for a chance to position themselves by criticizing your lack of whatever.
Unless you structure and channel the expectations of your group toward the collaborative steps it takes to go from here to the goal, you remain a punching ball of their interests.
What people have in common when they get to work together, it is that they have questions. Some obvious, some unconscious. When they don’t get their questions answered, they get agitated. Then either their insecurities and fears increase, or they become more angry and opposing – depending on the circumstance. And for you, that can feel as if a pack of hungry wolves is attacking.
So step out of your shell and start leading the process.
Provide structure, mental structure for your people.
Visualize that structure. That’s what we use timelines, graphs and charts for.
What are the big chunks? What’s not important?
What comes first, what happens later?
What is the team currently focused on? Why?
What are your expectations? A vote? A decision? Support? A discussion?
What will you deliver to them?
What are the next steps?
Facilitate the interaction. Leading does not mean that you have to provide all the answers. Help your group of people reach the answers they need in order to move in the direction of the goal, and you’re leading.
Invest in the process. Lead their minds.
Where is your focus currently as a leader, on content or process? Let me know in the comments, and if you’re struggling with shifting your focus to process, book yourself into a free clarity call.