Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion -

ONE of the most cru­cial lessons in lead­er­ship that many peo­ple miss is this: Peo­ple do not fol­low you be­cause you have the best ideas, or the most log­i­cal prob­lem-solv­ing skills. Peo­ple fol­low you be­cause they want to. Sim­ple as that.

John Maxwell de­scribes five lev­els of lead­er­ship in his book, De­vel­op­ing the Leader Within You. The first is Po­si­tion - where one leads sim­ply be­cause he has the ti­tle or po­si­tion. If you are a po­si­tional leader, peo­ple fol­low you be­cause they have to.

The next level is Per­mis­sion, where peo­ple fol­low be­cause they want to. This hap­pens when the leader has de­vel­oped good re­la­tion­ships within the or­ga­ni­za­tion. At this stage, peo­ple do not sim­ply fol­low you out of obli­ga­tion. They ac­tu­ally like you. They feel they un­der­stand you as you un­der­stand them. They are ac­tu­ally giv­ing you con­sent to lead them.

This sec­ond level of lead­er­ship is key be­cause it paves the way to the higher lev­els. With­out it, you will for­ever be stuck on the first level and will never achieve re­sults be­yond the barest min­i­mum that your fol­low­ers will give you. They will fol­low only out of com­pli­ance, never out of de­sire or sheer en­thu­si­asm.

To un­der­stand why this is so, we must un­der­stand that de­ci­sion-mak­ing is an emo­tional process, not a log­i­cal one. As much as we like to think we are ra­tio­nal crea­tures who make well-rea­soned and log­i­cal de­ci­sions most of the time, the fact is that we re­ally don’t. Look around your house and see how many things are there that you bought but don’t re­ally need.

As some­one once said, “We make de­ci­sions based on our emo­tions and af­ter­wards use logic to jus­tify those de­ci­sions.”

Re­search by An­to­nio Da­ma­sio con­firms this the­ory. Da­ma­sio stud­ied pa­tients who had a spe­cific kind of brain dam­age that pre­vented them from feel­ing emo­tions. Ev­ery­thing else about the per­son seemed nor­mal. One would ex­pect these peo­ple to make log­i­cal and rea­son­able de­ci­sions ev­ery time, like a real-life ver­sion of Mr. Spock from Star Trek. How­ever, Da­ma­sio dis­cov­ered that in­stead of that ex­pected Out­come, these peo­ple were un­able to make very sim­ple de­ci­sions such as what to wear or what to eat.

This led him to con­clude that de­ci­sions are in­deed linked strongly to one’s emo­tions rather than one’s logic. It is the same way when peo­ple choose their lead­ers.

Ef­fec­tive lead­ers un­der­stand that their first task is to be liked -- a knowl­edge that is some­times dan­ger­ous es­pe­cially to abu­sive lead­ers, be­cause once peo­ple like you, they will tend to de­fend you no mat­ter what de­ci­sions you make. There is a maxim of­ten quoted about this it is al­most a cliché, but it is none­the­less true: No­body cares how much you know un­til they know how much you care.

The key to get­ting peo­ple to fol­low you is by show­ing that you care about them, their lives, their fam­i­lies, their strug­gles, their hopes and their dreams. When you achieve this level of lead­er­ship, you can move on to the next, which is Pro­duc­tion -- get­ting your team to pro­duce re­sults that you want. At this stage, peo­ple fol­low you be­cause of what you do for the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Then you move up to Peo­ple Devel­op­ment -- mold­ing and groom­ing oth­ers into lead­er­ship po­si­tions, and here peo­ple fol­low you be­cause of what you do for them.

Lao Tzu got it right when he wrote: Go to the peo­ple. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have.

But with the best lead­ers, when the work is done, the task ac­com­plished, peo­ple will say “We have done this our­selves.”

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