Leading the Unwilling

Sean Glaze

Sean Glaze

Speaker, Author, Facilitator at Great Results Teambuilding
Sean has been inspiring rapid teamwork and developing leaders for over 20 years. As a coach, he learned the importance of relationships and the impact of connecting people to both a compelling goal and to their teammates. As an educator, he discovered the power of experiential learning activities to engage people and make ideas both personal and memorable. And now, as a speaker and author, he weaves those insights into interactive events and entertaining keynotes for corporate groups and other clients interested in increasing their competitive advantage by building a more engaged and connected team. Sean customizes every event as a powerful catalyst to increase your productivity and profits by boosting morale, improving interactions, and inspiring your people to stay coachable!
Sean Glaze


Sean inspires organizations to improve teamwork, boost morale, and increase collaboration with fun team building events and entertaining conference keynotes
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Sean Glaze
Sean Glaze
Sean Glaze

Latest posts by Sean Glaze (see all)

As a leader in your organization, you may sometimes think that you are leading the unwilling

It can be exhausting to feel that you are dragging your people behind you as if they were dead weight.  Their lack of enthusiasm or the fact that they are unwilling to make a sincere effort to move in the direction you’ve identified as important may be a danger sign you need to address.

It is no fun to catch yourself nagging your people to do what you need them to in order for team expectations to be met.  Leadership should be a process of encouraging and supporting your people and supporting their growth and efforts.

Leadership behaviors should not include nagging and dragging.

Regardless of your position, you can lead from where you are – but you lead best when you are helping others to become or accomplish what is important to them.

The reality is that leadership is not defined by position – it is defined by your ability to influence, and there are three main reasons that people might be resisting your attempts at leadership.

Instead of continuing to nag them, instead of exhausting yourself with attempts to drag them along with you and the more invested and enthusiastic teammates, realize that sometimes there is a disconnect between you an those you seek to lead.

The three most common reasons why you may feel like you are leading the unwilling are that people often resist leadership…

  1. if you’ve not yet proven yourself competent.

The truth is you don’t always enjoy the benefit of the doubt from others.  They won’t always assume that you are qualified or that you truly know what is best.  It is very important, then, to provide your team with stories or evidence of your past success, or at least a work ethic that has started to produce some impressive results.  That, together with a thorough plan that you share and repeatedly reference, will win over the less enthusiastic individuals that you want to influence.  Once they believe in you, they will become more willing to accept your ideas,  encouragements, and advice.

  1. if they don’t feel you are concerned about their needs.

People want to feel understood by those they are following.  It enables people to open up and become invested in your ideas.  WIIFM is still the most popular station in the world – so as a leader you must identify the benefits to everyone on board if you want them to join in and row with the team.  People row for themselves first, and want to know that you are aware of and appreciate their needs and desires.  This includes finding out about their style of influence and making use of their strengths.  A great leader doesn’t just get people on the boat – he finds the right seat and places them is a role best suited to their talents.

  1. if they think you’re going where they don’t want to go.

Values and vision always determine direction. If any of your people don’t want to go the direction you have chosen, you will need to either find a new organization adjust your chosen destination, or convince the individual that the destination you have identified will serve his/her purposes as well.  But if there is a conflict in values or vision, there will be many other conflicts elsewhere that serve as symptoms of your differences.

The solution to the three common reasons people may be resisting your leadership is to invest time in building relationships and clarifying the vision and destination for all that are on board.

Once your people are convinced that you are competent, that you understand and value them, and that you are going where they want to go, your job as leader will be halfway done.  The ideal situation for a leader is to work as an encouraging bodyguard who can keep the team free of external distractions and offer the resources and support to perform at their best.

If you need to build team trust and relationships, you might consider the tremendous return on investment that a day of interactive team building challenges would provide.   Instead of spending your energy and time with adversarial dragging and nagging, find a way to meet the three needs above and your people will no longer be unwilling – they will be inspired!

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