Leadership Lesson: Accept That People Are Different

leadership lesson

This is the biggest leadership lesson I’ve learned: Avoid trying to “mold” people.

Managers and leaders often talk about “getting everyone on the same page”. While they think that it is more productive if everyone works in the same way, the opposite is true. The real reason managers and whole companies try to get everybody on the same page are because they are weak and afraid. They think that molding everyone into a set of company values and processes will create a unified army of workers. This way of thinking is advocated by many managers. They believe that people will work better when they are more alike.

By trying to make everything and work alike, you weaken the differences between people. And very often, the differences between people lead to great results. By decreasing differences between people, you also kill creativity and natural flow. The feeling that you have to work in a described way by your manager, makes most of us less motivated.

Leadership lessons show us that the real danger is that when you try to turn people into something they are not, they bring less energy and motivation to the task. Initially, people might be enthusiastic about a new direction. You see this effect often with new managers, they believe that their strategy is working. Which is true, but it will not last.

Instead of molding people into something you want them to be, relax and open up to people’s unique visions. As a leader, you can offer your people a framework so they can do their job. For instance, Steve Jobs wasn’t afraid to let Jony Ive flourish. And Jony Ive became one of the most important people at Apple.

Everyone has to be a leader sooner or later. Think of small projects you might have to lead with a handful of people That is enough to demonstrate your leadership. By not being afraid of people’s capabilities and talents, you can let them excel in what they do. This will ultimately lead to better results.

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