Leadership always has more than one side to it. Sometimes you listen and other times you speak. You give and you take. You teach and you learn. And then there is pushing and pulling.
The vision of your organization demands that movement is made. As a leader, you then have to decide how that movement will take place. Some are ready and some are not. The Bible often uses the image of a shepherd for the leader in the church. Conversely, for the people, the image is the flock of sheep. For a number of doctrinal reasons, it makes perfect sense. It also makes sense simply because of the pragmatic issues involved in leading.
The push of leadership
Some people that are under your leadership are not ready for the next step. But that does not mean that you must stop the forward progress. Sometimes, members of the team need to be given the feeling of a launch. They need momentum to catch them from behind in order to know how to move forward.
Now, some may find the idea of “pushy” leadership offensive. I can hear the disagreements about needs full agreement, buy-in, and feeling prepared for change. I think of it rather in terms of a ship using its sail. The team members are often more ready than they think and once the proverbial wind catches their sail, they find themselves quite comfortable in the forward motion.
You see… leadership that pushes does not have to be like a bully shoving someone along. (See my post on The Things Leaders Must Stop Doing)
The pull of leadership
You will also have team members that are fully ready for the next step. They want you to latch on to them tightly and take off like a rocket. They love the idea of what comes next, even if a bit unknown. Pulling takes skill nonetheless.
If you go too fast, your grip on them and their grip on you will weaken. The issue of pace is critical. Keep in mind the old idea that a leader with no followers has gone out for a useless walk. So even when they all say, “We’re ready. Let’s go. Take us somewhere new!” – they still have limits on how fast it can happen around them, with them, and to them.
Pulling requires a strong grip by both the leader and the follower. Allow them to be a part of the process. It is the way to transition them from dependency to partnership.
Learning how to push without being a grade-A jerk and how to pull without being demeaning are skills you must master. And, trust me, it will not happen by reading a 500-word blog post. It will take real-world experience based in a plenty of relationship capital. So invest wisely so you will know when to push and when to pull.