We have heard it before. “You can’t change people.” Yet we persist with the idea that if we just use the right words at the right time, the other person will “get it.”

In “Leadership in the Age of Complexity: From Hero to Host” Margaret Wheatley (no relation to Humanergy’s co-founder, David Wheatley) talks about the myth of the heroic leader. One thing the heroic leader believes is that people will do what they are told, if they are given good enough instructions.

The problem here is the illusion that leaders control what they cannot, like what others do, think or feel. What you can control is your own actions.

Rather than jumping in to correct what’s wrong with their people, leaders can be a positive influence and provide support. They can:

Articulate a vision for the future

Be specific about expectations

Ask great questions

Give feedback on behaviors

Protect people from bureaucracy, politics and other distractions

Celebrate wins

When you feel the urge to jump in and fix a person, say, “I want to help. How can I best do that?”

Want to help your people navigate choppy waters? Contact Humanergy.

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