Hey Leaders: Are You Pushing or Pulling?

Pushing or Pulling

Recently, as I was looking for inspiring quotes on leadership, I found this gem and it resonated with me.

“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.” ~ John Buchan

On Pushing or Pulling

I had been focusing my efforts on a marketing challenge and was reading a great article that appeared in the Harvard Business Review titled Three Steps to Generating Social Gravity, by Mark Bonchek.

The article describes the push and pull concept of today’s savvy consumers and also touches on the concept that leaders these days need to take a note and apply some pull vs. push in their style.

It’s true… people don’t like to be pushed.

I certainly do not — whether it’s in a long line at the airport queuing up or in a boardroom — I find it’s rather uncomfortable and in said case, I often leave elsewhere my best manners, work ethics and creativity.

But when a great leader creates that wonderful gravitational field that attracts and inspires those they lead often, we are pulled into a state of inspired creativity and would motivate anyone to move the Earth to orbit that person’s influence.

Leadership like this is enduring and meaningful and inspires authentic relationships; we are drawn to it like flies to a bright light.

Creating Leadership Gravitas

There are multiple leadership books written on the topic but really it’s very simple to create this gravitational pull style of leadership:

1. Shared Purpose – Provides the “Why”

The focus isn’t on the immediate, but on achieving the shared purpose or goal, a sense of  accomplishment. This shared purpose attracts and retains those high achievers and many will bring along their like-minded achievers to rally and join.

2. Engaged Communications ( Platforms) – Provides the “What”

Engage your audience by providing added value in a platform they can use to their benefit. From HBR: “Engagement platforms are built from multiple layers working together. The identity layer recognizes the customer.

The data layer exchanges information to personalize the experience. The relationship layer enables connection among the brand and community members.

Finally, the value layer delivers benefits to the users.”

3. Collaboration – Provides the “How”

When we allow colleagues to be partners we are engaging a powerful way of amplifying and accelerating the common goals. It can multiply the efforts of teams and bring value to potential contributors and add credibility to reinforce value and build trusted relationships versus pushing a mandate.

People want to be asked to contribute and generally will give their best when they feel that they are being pulled into collaboration versus being pushed.

When combining forces, you can multiply value rapidly.

Leadership Takeaways

So, the takeaway message is:

Don’t push — Pull!

More often greatness is already in those we lead, and as leaders our job is to elicit it. My guess is that more often than not, greatness was there to begin with — it just wasn’t being engaged.

Are you pushing or pulling as a leader? In what ways have you been unsuccessfully pushed by a leader and what did you learn from it? What is one way you’d create the gravitational pull of leadership that was not mentioned in this post? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Kim Brechin is Principal at Look-Solutions
She manages & leads high performance teams within competitive markets

Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Web | 503-869-3304

Image Sources: wakeforestlawreview.com

5 responses to “Hey Leaders: Are You Pushing or Pulling?

  1. I really enjoyed this post Kim! Thanks for your insight. “Don’t push, pull” is a short and sweet, yet very powerful statement!


  2. Reblogged this on Sell, Lead, Succeed! and commented:
    I really enjoyed Kiim Brechin’s post on leadership over the weekend. It is insightful, and delivers a very powerful message that all leaders should keep in their hip pocket.


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