by Kevin DeShazo
“They don’t have to like me, they just have to respect me.” How many times have we heard leaders say that? And in the old world (before the internet was available in the palm of our hand), you could get away with that. Information was a commodity and if you were the coach and won a lot of games, people felt that they had to comply. As we enter into a new world and new reality of leadership, it’s time we leave that phrase and that thinking in the past. That line of thinking gives us an excuse to not connect with our team
In the new world, we are searching for leaders we want to follow, not leaders we have to follow. Gone are the days where people will commit and trust just because you are the boss. That’s a good thing. It forces leaders to get better, to realize that trust today is about relational influence, not positional authority. It raises the standard for leaders. And it starts with character.
What’s it like to be on the other side of your leadership?
In every interaction, your people are asking three questions of you.
Are you for me?
Are you against me?
Are you for yourself?
If your players know you are for them, they’re all in. They know that, even in the difficult moments and the times where you must bring challenge and accountability, you have their best in mind. If your players think you are against them, they shut down. They’ll do the work but not with any purpose or energy. At the first opportunity, they’re out. If they believe you are for yourself, they feel used and manipulated. They believe you care more about yourself than you do about them.
It’s a trust issue. Do your people trust you and your intent? It’s not about agreeing with every decision the leader makes, it’s about trusting they have the right intent in making the decision. If we can’t trust a leader, we can’t follow a leader. If we do trust a leader, we’ll commit.
Do you want a committed team or a compliant team?
We believe culture is an advantage and that leaders define culture. Looking at your culture is looking in the mirror. It’s a reflection of your leadership. As a leader, you can create a culture of compliance or a culture of commitment. Compliant teams show up because they have to, committed teams show up because they want to. If you want a compliant team, you demand things because you are the boss. If you want a committed team, you fight for the highest good of your people. A compliant team fights for themselves, a committed team fights for each other. The character of the leader determines what kind of culture they will have. So what kind of culture will you create?
In the new world, talent isn’t enough. A talented leader without character will ultimately undermine their influence. It becomes about ego, not about people. Greatness isn’t just about talent, it’s not about trophies, it’s not about accomplishments. Greatness is about character and character is the currency of influence.
If leaders define culture, we need leaders who make character a priority. We need leaders who live a standard worth following.