How to STOP Telling, and START Inspiring

I was listening to a speaker the other day and something she said really stuck with me:


“You don’t want people to do what YOU want them to do. 

You want them to do what THEY want to do. 

And you have to train them to do that.”


This was a speaker talking about leadership and employee engagement.


She was articulating an important difference between ‘telling’ employees what to do, and ‘inspiring’ them to want the same things you want, so they’re excited to do what it takes to achieve them.


Trying to manage your team through policies, procedures, rules and handbooks isn’t a model for success. 


Think about it… how successful are you at talking a customer into buying a product that they don’t see the value in? You know that’s no way to make a sale. 


Instead, you get to know what your client needs, explain how your product provides what they’re looking for, then let them make the choice to move forward.


It’s the same idea for employee engagement. It’s called LEADING THROUGH INFLUENCE.


Just like customers, employees need to know HOW what you’re ‘selling’ aligns with what they’re looking for. As a leader, you’ll want to explain how your business vision provides value for them too. For you and your employee, this may come in the form of suggesting a solution to a problem they’re having, highlighting something valuable about their role, or reframing a potential issue into a solution that makes more sense.


When you learn to lead through influence, you no longer have to resort to a battle of will to convince employees to do what you want. 


By demonstrating how a business goal supports their own success, you’ve created an internal desire for your people to want to do what you want. And when it’s coming from within them, they’re excited and more compelled to do it.


I’ve said for many years: there is no difference between selling and leadership. The two skills are cut from the same cloth. And this is one reason why: influence is more powerful than power.


When people try to lead through power — when they try to make team members do what they want simply by virtue of being the boss — they end up losing people, losing money, and losing momentum for business growth. 


When people treat their team members as they would their best customers — helping them see how doing what is needed aligns with and supports their best interests — they’re rewarded with loyalty, consistency and happiness.


Which helps everyone wake up in the morning inspired, motivated and excited to get to work!

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