Re-engage your unwilling team

It can be exhausting to feel that you are dragging your unwilling team behind you as if they were dead weight. The lack of enthusiasm of your team, or the fact they are not willing 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 for team expectations to be met.  Therefore, Leadership should be a process of encouraging and supporting people. You should be supporting their growth and efforts.  Leadership behaviours 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 your unwilling team to become or accomplish what is important to them.

Influencing your unwilling team

The reality is that leadership is not defined by position. It is defined by your ability to influence.  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 and 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. Share stories of 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.  Once they believe in you, they will become more willing to accept your ideas,  encouragements, and advice.

2. 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.  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 in a role best suited to their talents.

3. 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 in the direction you have chosen, you will need to either find a new organization or adjust your chosen destination.  Alternatively, you must 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.

Invest in relationships

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

Your people will have the trust that you are competent.  They will know that you understand and value them.  Additionally, they will know that you are going where they want to go. If all those factors are in place then your job as a leader will be halfway done.  The ideal situation for a leader is to work as an encouraging bodyguard. One who can keep the team free of external distractions. To 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.   Don’t spend 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!

How To Help Your Unwilling Team To Follow You

1. Establish Trust Through Transparency

Firstly, leaders must cultivate trust. Clearly communicate your vision and the reasons behind decisions. Transparency fosters trust. For example, Satya Nadella’s transformation of Microsoft’s culture hinged on trust and transparency, leading to increased innovation and collaboration.

2. Align Goals With Individual Motives

Secondly, align team goals with personal incentives. Understand what motivates each member. Use neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) techniques to tap into individual values and beliefs, enhancing motivation. As Tony Robbins advocates, “Find someone’s hot buttons and the sky’s the limit.”

3. Empower With Autonomy

Thirdly, empower your team. Grant autonomy within their roles. Neuroscience shows autonomy increases engagement and satisfaction. Google’s ‘20% time’ policy, allowing employees to work on personal projects, significantly boosted productivity and innovation.

4. Foster a Growth Mindset

Fourthly, encourage a growth mindset. Frame challenges as opportunities. Carol Dweck’s research underscores the power of believing abilities can be developed. This approach drives resilience and adaptability.

5. Communicate With Impact

Fifthly, communicate effectively. Use NLP to mirror language patterns, building rapport. Steve Jobs was a master, using simple, direct language to inspire his teams. This technique creates a powerful connection.

6. Celebrate Collective Wins

Lastly, celebrate successes together. Acknowledge contributions, big and small. This not only reinforces positive behaviour but also releases dopamine in the brain, which naturally encourages a repeat performance.

Incorporating these strategies, leaders can transform reluctance into engagement, steering their teams toward shared success.

  • About the Author
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Sean Glaze inspires people to have fun laughing together so they can have more success working together. His two books, The Unexpected Leader and Rapid Teamwork are powerful parables for building and leading great teams!
As a successful basketball coach and educator for over 20 years, Sean gained valuable insights into how to develop winning teams – and founded Great Results Teambuilding to share those lessons…
Today, he travels around the country delivering interactive team building events and entertaining keynotes that transform employees into winning teammates!