By David M. Dye
How long can you hold your breath?
Better yet, unless it’s dangerous to your health, try it right now: hold your breath as long as you can.
How long did you make it? 30 seconds, one minute, maybe two? Before long, you couldn’t help yourself – you just had to breathe.
In fact, I could offer a huge incentive for you to hold your breath, but no matter how much money I offer, at some point you have no choice. Your body will force the issue.
There are only two things in the world that you have to do: breathe and eliminate waste. Every other behavior is a choice.
You choose how you show up to work each day: Will you give it your best or just occupy space and slide by? It’s a choice you make.
The fundamental leadership truth you cannot ignore is that if it’s a choice for you, it’s also a choice for your team. Everyone is a volunteer.
You cannot force anyone to do anything.
“Wait a minute, David,” you might say, “if they don’t do their job they can be fired.”
You’re right of course, but that doesn’t change anything. They still have a choice about what they do and whether or not to remain on the team. Think about your own situation: to keep your job, there is a minimum effort you have to put in.
Oddly enough, I’ve never coached or worked with a single leader who wanted a team’s minimum effort. Of course not! As a leader you want motivated, committed, engaged teams. In short: teams that choose to give their best.
The path to engaged teams begins when you realize that everyone chooses:
This fundamental truth — that everyone is a volunteer — will change your leadership forever. Every person on your team becomes a gift. Every action they take is a freely given gift. Every ounce of energy they expend on a project is a gift.
Your work as a leader shifts from force to invitation, from control to influence, from fear to gratitude. You won’t lead to wring out the worst, but to bring out the best.
Here are a few specific tools you can use to begin:
If you think about your own performance, I’ll bet your best efforts were not the result of money or a fear of being fired.
Everyone is a volunteer. Lead with gratitude!
Copyright © 2011-2014 David M. Dye
Bio Paragraph: David Dye works with leaders to get breakthrough results without losing their soul (or mind) in the process. He is the award-winning author of Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul. He is the President of Trailblaze, Inc, tweets from @davidmdye, and welcomes your LinkedIn invitation.