Leadership ? Push vs. Pull?

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At your next staff meeting consider leading your team through the following discussion.

This lesson is focused on getting people to think in terms of effective leadership. When helping a co-worker, or a customer, employees must understand their role as a leader. The exercise goes like this:

Introduction of the Exercise: (feel free to create your own similar story to support the exercise)

Like many who come from a small town, I was amazed at the number of transients who made the campus of the university I attended their local residence.

At first, the idea of having to walk past many of these individuals was a bit scary. I was not accustomed to being solicited for money or "spare change".

However, after a few weeks of walking to class and regularly being asked for "a quarter for a cup of coffee", the experience quickly became routine.

In fact, after a while, if I didn't see one of the regular panhandlers for a period of time, I would wonder where he was keeping himself.

Certainly, after a brief period, the transients became a small part of my environment, part of my daily experience of college life. Over time, I got to know some of them by name, and they became familiar with who I was.

In any event, one of the most notable transients I became acquainted with was a man by the name of Uncle Ben. Uncle Ben could often be seen dragging a short rope behind him as he walked down the street.

You would think, by watching Uncle Ben, that he was delusional and under the misguided assumption that he had a dog tied to the end of the rope.

Uncle Ben would look back at the end of the rope as he walked, and say - "Come on now boy, keep up."

Very often someone would witness this questionable behavior as Uncle Ben approached and they would ask simply, "Why are you pulling that rope?"

(At this point, give each team member a short piece of string and ask them to experiment with the "rope". Pull it back and forth along the table. Then ask them to guess as to what Uncle Ben's response is going to be. Then continue the story.)

Again, very often someone would witness the behavior as Uncle Ben approached, and they would ask simply, "Why are you pulling that rope?"

Uncle Ben would quickly reply, "Well have you ever tried PUSHING a rope? It doesn't work very well!" This always made Uncle Ben holler in laughter as he kept walking past the person who fell victim to his humor.

You have to give Uncle Ben credit. Indeed, you can't very well push a rope.

In conclusion, make this strong point to your group:

By "pulling" the rope, it will follow you anywhere. Try to "push" it, and the rope goes nowhere at all. The same can be said for the art of leadership.

Leadership is the ability to make people want to follow you. They do that when they see that you are willing to work alongside them and take a vested interest in their success.

People will follow you if they feel you know where you are taking them. If they feel you have integrity and truly care about their success.

We must each pull our co-workers with us. We must pull our customers toward us. Otherwise, we run the risk of pushing them all away.

Richard Gorham is the founder and President of Leadership-Tools, Inc. His web site, is dedicated to providing free tools and resources for today's aspiring leaders. Offering high-quality tools in the areas of Business Planning, Leadership Development, Customer Service, Sales Management and Team Building.

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