Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
This is such a simple yet profound truth. Have you ever tried laying a piece of string out on a table to test this? Of course, with one finger on one end of the string, if you try to push the string it simply starts curling and wadding up in a pile until you get to the other end of the string. But when you pull (lead) the string it naturally stays in line and follows.
Eisenhower is not saying that we need to keep people on a string. That’s not it at all. What he is saying is if we wish to be a leader we must be willing to take the first step. If we are expecting our people to improve we must be willing to improve. If we expect excellence from our team we must demand excellence from ourselves.
Ask yourself these questions:
Have I gone where I’m asking them to go?
Have I done what I’m asking them to do?
Have I sacrificed what I’m asking them to sacrifice?
Do I model the kind of character that I expect to see in them?
Be gut level honest with yourself when you ask these questions.
None of us are perfect and we all have areas that need work so let’s challenge ourselves to become better leaders. Then, we can challenge our teams to become better at what they do.
Sometimes a leader will get frustrated because his team has become stagnant and doesn’t improve or move forward. But, all too often, the reason for the stagnation and lack of movement is that the leader has become stagnant and immobile. The team can only go where the leader challenges himself to go and therefore can take them.