I have been in leadership positions for over 25 years, from raising kids and teaching martial arts to business management and personnel coaching roles. One of the secrets to my success, as I pointed out in my booklet LEAD!, is pulling people instead of pushing them. Very few people are motivated by pushing, but almost everybody responds to a pull.
What’s the difference between pushing and pulling?
- Pushing: “Did you forget that the deadline is tomorrow? If you don’t make that deadline it’s going to be a disaster! What are you doing to make sure that you’re going to make the deadline?”
- Pulling: “We’re going to need to work together to hit that deadline tomorrow. What do you think we should do to make sure we do? What can I do to help?”
Pushing is like shoving a person in the direction you want them to go. Pulling is like taking someone by the hand and leading them toward a mutually beneficial destination.
Just now I saw a tweet (see below) and I clicked the link. In it, world famous life coach Tony Robbins talks about the three types of motivation — pushing, pulling, and incentive — and relates a story about how he used pull motivation to encourage President Obama to change his second term governing strategy. Not a huge fan of Tony Robbins, but this is basic stuff, and he got this right. If you’re not using pull motivation, your leadership engine is not running at maximum potential.
The same goes for martial arts. If you are not using pulling strategies in addition to pushing ones, you’ll never fully control the space in which the conflict takes place. There are three ways to get an opponent where you want them — you can push them, you can pull them, and you can draw them — and they all have their time and place.
On the mat or in self defense you can use pushing to your heart’s content. You are, after all, involved in a conflict. But in leadership, use pushing to your peril. People don’t like conflict and they don’t like to be pushed. They’d much rather be pulled.
I have a day job, and in that day job I’m a leader. I’ve learned a few things about leadership I’d like to share.
Being a solid leader isn’t rocket science. Here are the bullet points:
- Make sure that 80% of all interaction is positive. Start by saying good morning to everybody on your team. Start everyone’s day with a compliment.
- Defend your team no matter what. If they screw up, take responsibility yourself when talking to higher-ups. Never, ever, throw anybody under the bus.
- When your team succeeds, give them the credit. That’s right — they get the credit when they do well, you get the blame when they mess up. Sucks to be the leader. Get over it.
- Be truthful, honest, consistent, and prompt in dealing the situations. Don’t let anything fester.
- Get weak players up to speed or get them off the team. Break your back to train and foster them until you’re sure they just can’t do the work. Then make the tough call before they wreck everything.
- Don’t gossip. Never discuss one member of your team with another member of your team unless it’s 100% positive. “Marge did an awesome job!” is fine. “Joey screwed up royally” or “Pat did okay” are not.
- Give your team clear objectives, proper tools, solid training, and make yourself available for guidance. Don’t micro-manage. Just allow them to succeed.
Do these things and your team will be happy and productive, they will love you and defend you to the bitter end, and together you will overcome all obstacles.
I’m frustrated and upset by the New York Times article titled Carbon Emissions Show Biggest Jump Ever Recorded. Yes, I’m frustrated by the numbers, and yes, I’m angered that our leaders in government have done such a poor job on climate change legislation.
But I’m equally frustrated by the tone and placement of the article. It’s written as though the average citizen of Earth is just along for the ride; as if we’re in the back seat and our leaders have complete control of the steering wheel. Why isn’t this article on the front page, in type as big as “NIXON RESIGNS”? Why doesn’t it call people to action? When it comes to climate change there should be no neutral point of view, and no politics.
Mainstream news has failed us and our governments have failed us. What are we going to do about it? The fact is, our leaders could legislate their lazy buns off, and journalists could type their fingers to nubs, but there would be no substantive change. Imagine a draconian law making it illegal to commute more than 10 miles to work. Would people move or change jobs? Or would they drive anyway, or even openly revolt?
Some legislation and some apocalyptic reporting would be great — it would be true leadership — but it’s equally important for the citizenry of Earth to wake up and realize that the fate of the planet is at stake. We, as global citizens, need to take action.
Which is why the Occupy Movement is so fantastic and so critical, so vitally important. It shows that we don’t have to wait for our greedy, myopic, self-centered leaders to start leading. We can take charge of our futures.
Now that’s what I call leadership.