How To Lead The Hard To Influence (Part One)

It may be your spouse, your child, your team member, your employee or your boss!  As a leader, what do you do with the difficult to lead?

difficult to lead image

About a year ago one of our managers came to me and asked me a question I think every good leader asks.  She said, “How do I influence the difficult to influence on my team, you know those that you can’t reach?”

That question gave me pause!

I thought to myself, “Wow, isn’t this is the dilemma of every leader?”

I did not respond with an answer that day, but asked if I could take a few days and think on this question.  In the next few weeks, we had a dialogue about this important topic.  But that question has been with me since then, and I ask it to myself often.

In this blog I will present the first principle I discovered in addressing this question.  (More in future blogs.)

When we encounter someone who is hard to influence we usually ask ourselves, “Only if they see it, only if they ‘wise up’.  Only if they would come along.”  We get frustrated, irritated and bent out of shape!

“What’s wrong with them?”, we ask.

Can you relate to that?

Here is what’s wrong with them:  Nothing!

It’s about what’s wrong with you and me.  That’s the problem.  We are focused on the wrong person!

The hard lesson I learned is this…  If I were better, they would come along!  The sooner we understand this very simple principle, the sooner we start moving mountains and start influencing people and going to great places with them.

Great leaders know this.  They know that it’s not up to people changing so they can see how great we are, how great the vision is or how great our ideas are.  It is up to us changing so we can have an impact on them!

Using the same personalities from the previous blog, I say:

  • If Jesus had a weak vision, did not sacrifice, did not love, did not train others, did not empower the 12, not too many would have followed him.  Many who were influenced would have been hard to influence.
  • If Martin Luther King Jr. did not “dream,” did not march, did not insist on human dignity, and did not die for his cause, not too many would have followed him.  Many who were influenced would have been hard to influence. 
  • If Mother Theresa did not suffer for her cause, did not have a depth and breadth to her character, and did not have a commitment to her mission, not too many would have followed.  Many who were influenced would have been hard to influence. 
  • If John Maxwell did not write, did not deeply care for others, and did not have integrity in his message not too many would have followed.  Many who were influenced would have been hard to influence.

So it’s about us changing, not them!  If we understand them better, if we empower them more, if we are very clear on our expectations, if we inspire them, if we share with them our passion and vision, if we model sacrifice and giving, they may not be difficult to lead after all!

And so what I learned is:  If I want to influence the hard to influence, IT IS I WHO HAS TO CHANGE!  

In future blogs I will be sharing more principles and ideas on this topic.

Until then give this some thought, and focus only on changing the one person you should – YOU.

Your friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

Question: What do you do when someone is difficult to lead?

4 Comments
  • Kathy
    Posted at 09:29h, 28 September Reply

    I think you hit on a really important point here Wes. Willingness to see the issues as “ours” to fix is absolutely fundamental to increasing our influence. I spent 23 years in Human Resources with minimal organizational authority but I was able to build a tremendous amount of influence with others. When someone did not listen to my advice and did something that was contrary to what I thought should happen, the first thing I said to myself was “they have not gifted me with the level of influence I want, how do I connect with them in a better way so that I gain that influence.” Then I changed my approach and tried something new. I believe influence is a lot like trust, you can’t demand that someone give it to you, you have to earn it. If you don’t have enough influence with someone, it means you haven’t found a way to earn it yet so you need to try something different. I never saw it as their problem, but as 100% mine.

    Thank you for making this important distinction!

    Kathy

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 21:06h, 02 October Reply

      Kathy, I love your comment!!! Having being in HR for those years, and being a writer and coach on leadership, I really appreciate your perspective on this important topic of leadership. Thank you so much for commenting!!

  • Allisha
    Posted at 19:39h, 29 September Reply

    You are right. I have been through this so many times before and it wasn’t until someone invested and influenced me, that I understood this. I really enjoyed this blog because it hits real close to home. This is something that I am faced with every day.

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 13:41h, 02 October Reply

      Thank you so much Allisha!! You are a great leader! yes, I face it every day as well!!!!!

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