I get questions often from people asking me a how to deal with questions, as if there is a way to “fix” other people. There isn’t. You don’t fix others and dealing with people starts first with understanding who and how they are and working with them from there. If you have unmotivated people in your circle and you need ways to deal with them, there are ways to do it, but first let’s cover the ways to not do it:
- Berate them for not being as dedicated as you
- Yelling at or otherwise cajoling others to get on your level
- Thinking, speaking or otherwise behaving negatively towards people who aren’t doing things the way you’d like them to be done.
- Giving up your efforts because the above actions didn’t produce the desired result.
None of these will get people to do what you want them to do. If your goal is to lead, you don’t want to behave like a boss — what’s listed above are boss actions. And not the good way of being a boss (i.e., a person in charge who makes moves, calls shots, and is otherwise running the show). This kind of boss is the kid you probably have worked for before: They’re OK or terrible, but you do what you’re told by the boss because you need the check and the boss has the power to fire you and take away future checks. If you want to be a boss — and have people only do the minimum to keep you off their backs — then you can do the above. If you want to lead, there is another set of actions to follow:
- Take the actions you want others to take.
- Whatever you want people to be, you must be it, every time.
- Encourage and accentuate the positive — when someone takes a single action that is what you want, recognize it, and ignore all of the actions that you don’t want. There should be a clear contrast between the two in your responses.
- In a tense situation, you go first — this is leading, after all.
- When everyone is looking around, wondering what should be done, step up and make a decision (it doesn’t even have to be the right decision in the long run — any decision is better than nothing).
- Be the tone-setter for the group: Your presence in the room or at the table changes the mood of the entire situation in a positive way.
A boss has people who do what they have to do. A leader has people who do what they want to do. A leader can get much more out of her people than a boss can, and she doesn’t even have to pay them.