One Leadership Mistake Most People Make

Leadership is a complex subject, but you can start to grasp it by asking yourself this question. Who are you willing to follow and why?

Look at your own experience. You are most likely to follow someone who inspires you and it’s maybe someone you are in awe of. A leader should be able to get you to do something almost without you agreeing to it. You know the feeling of just getting carried away with something?

Back in the days of your schooling, the leaders were the ones telling you to throw that stone through the window. OK, maybe that was just me! But, I can guarantee that these people are now leaders in some form or another. Sure, they may have turned out to be bad, but we aren’t discussing their intent here. We are, however discussing their ability to lead.

Some people are willing to follow anyone who tells them to do something. In my early days of school, this was the case. In the later days, when I realized what was happening the tables turned. And then it was me telling people to do the “naughty” stuff.

There is a lot of information on the subject of leadership and how you can inspire people. Yet, there is one prime fundamental to successful leadership. And that is the subject of control.

Gasp! Control! Pfft.

Leadership and Control

Embedded in the subject of leadership is the misunderstood subject of control. A lot of people consider “control” to be bad, but there is a form of control which is good.

So, you’d think if there were such a thing as good control, that there would be a thing called bad control.

Yet, in essence, there isn’t such a thing as bad control. There is good control or no control. Period.

Think about it. How often has your boss given you a task, which you’ve grumbled about?

Or put another way, how often have you given a task to someone, only to have them grumble about it?

If you are going to be hand-on-heart honest, I am willing to bet that this has happened often?

Why? Well, there could be many reasons, but one might be that in the past you felt they didn’t control you well. Now, in a different scenario you just expect them to be the same.

Exerting good control is the way to get things done and to have happy and productive staff.

The formula of control is simple. You give someone an achievable task to do within an achievable timeframe. Then, when they complete the task, you acknowledge the completion with at least a thank you.

When you break a task down it has the following parts:

  • A start, where someone begins an action.
  • A middle, where the action or thing or object gets changed.
  • An end where the action draws to a close.

And there is the subject of control. It is just as simple as that – starting something, then changing it and then finally stopping. If you allow someone to go through the whole cycle you have in effect used “good control” to achieve an outcome.

An Example of Control

Person 1: Says to Person 2, “Please make me a cup of tea”.

What has to happen here? Well to begin, Person 2 has to arrive in the area where the tea making items exist and gather them together. This is the start. Next, there is a certain amount of “change”, the water has to get changed and taken from cold to boiling. The sugar goes from crystal to liquid. The milk goes from cold to hot, etc, etc.

The completed tea now gets delivered to Person 1. When the tea arrives, the cycle is complete and Person 2 stops making tea.

And that is the subject of control. You start, change and then stop.

There are all kinds of things that you can go wrong with control. Taking the tea example again, let’s say you asked Person 2 to make a cup of tea. Then, before they were able to complete the request you told them to make a sandwich. And, before they finished making the sandwich you said, stop and make me a milkshake.

What do you think would happen?

If you thought the person would be annoyed, you’d be right.

And more that can go wrong here, with the “change” step.

If Person 2 just continued to change, the tea would never arrive at Person 1. They could continue to boil the water forever, or just keep pouring the milk until it runs out all over the floor.

Whichever way you look at it, you can’t get a completed cup of tea if you continue to change part of it.

The area of “stop” also brings extra problems.

You don’t end up with a finished product if Person 2 stopped boiling the water before it was ready. If the action of adding milk stops before the correct amount gets dispensed you don’t have a good cup of tea.

Leadership is also known as Good Control

So, even when you take a simple task of making a cup of tea, you can see that there can be many problems. I’ve only got a few here, but I’m sure you could think of more.

To be a good leader you need to respect this natural law of control. And while there are a lot of different people in society the fundamentals never change. That’s why they are fundamentals.

Good control means you’ve got to be responsible for the whole cycle, the start, the change and the stop. Even if you aren’t doing the action yourself. You might request a cup of tea, but then you need to help the person by leading them if they need it.

Keeping responsibility for the request, for the person doing the work and for the product is important. The key to good leadership is responsibility and accountability.

Good leadership utilizes control and is often confused with micro-managing. But the basic form of leadership is stepping in to guide when necessary, and show how to do something if needed.

Whatever else leaders demonstrate and whatever else leaders need to be, they need to be able to control. If a leader can control their people they will win and their team will win.

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