Series - Three Tools

When Followers Don’t Follow: Cultivating Influence

Read the series.

You can’t convince them to do it. You can’t make them do it, but you know it’s the right course of action, and you feel responsible. What can you do?

Several common responses should be promptly rejected. Empty threats should be off the table for Christian parents, spouses, coaches, teachers, coordinators, etc. (Eph. 6:9). That option only builds resentment, damages relationships, and reduces whatever respect the leader has. Ranting and sulking certainly don’t help (Gen. 42:36). Quietly stewing in bitterness finds its way out eventually, too (Num. 20:11-12).

Better options include reexamining our sense of responsibility, reexamining the potential tools, and refocusing on the tool of influence.

1698 reads

When Followers Don’t Follow: The Limits of Persuasion

Read the series so far.

Parents, spouses, teachers, team leaders, ministry leaders, and others are often not content with gaining short-term outward compliance from those in their care. They understand that a deeper and more enduring understanding is better, whenever that’s achievable. It follows that they should reach early and often for the tool of persuasion.

But persuasion is sometimes ill suited for the task at hand. At least four situations call for a different approach, either foregoing a persuasive effort to begin with or setting it aside for another day—or possibly tabling it indefinitely for a particular audience.

1641 reads

When Followers Don’t Follow: The Art of Persuasion

Though many of us don’t think of ourselves as leaders, we all find ourselves in situations where we’re responsible to some extent for “getting other people to do things” (or stop doing things). In that sense, we’re all leaders occasionally.

Previously, I introduced three primary tools leaders have at their disposal (coercion, persuasion, and influence), overviewed how the three differ, and explored some ways we tend to use one of them—coercion—badly (with self-defeating consequences).

Paul’s letter to Philemon draws our attention to the second tool—persuasion—and even a brief look reveals a great deal about what persuasion is, how it works, and why we should try to get better at it.

5970 reads

When Followers Don’t Follow: A Closer Look at Coercion

Life is stewardship. In a perfect world, everyone would not only recognize that fact, but they would also recognize and accept the responsibilities that go with their individual stewardship. Perhaps people would still need to be told what to do, but they would never need to be coerced. “Do this in order to receive this short term reward” would be weird, and “Do this, or else” would be unheard of.

But that isn’t the world we live in, and people are much in need of leaders to influence, persuade, and yes, coerce.

Coercion, though, is so easily botched! As a result, leaders often lapse into acting like either bullies or beggars, and both errors tend to produce followers who don’t follow. As one who struggles to use the tools of leadership properly (and who has experienced their misuse by others), I believe it’s worth the effort to understand coercion better.

6564 reads

When Followers Don’t Follow

People who don’t consider themselves leaders often find themselves in roles that include some leadership responsibility. These roles include everything from committee chairs, team leaders, and project coordinators to ministry leaders, volunteer coordinators, parents, husbands—even older siblings.

Not only are these leaders often unskilled in leadership, but, human nature being what it is, followers are also often reluctant to follow—any leader. (Moses had Miriam and Aaron and eventually Korah; King David had Absalom; even Jesus Christ had Judas Iscariot.)

So you have leadership responsibility, but those you are responsible to lead aren’t following. What do you do? There may be little you can do. But it’s also possible that relatively simple changes in the use of leadership tools will get far better results.

3694 reads