Change the Polls, Don’t Just Read the Polls
This blog post has a political slant. I am not taking sides; I just want to illustrate a point about leadership.
Too many leaders in politics focus on reading the polls as a guiding light to what they do or believe. It makes me wonder as leaders, are we taking charge of our leadership, or are we being tossed about by the influence of popular opinion?
Strong leaders focus more on changing the polls than reading the polls.
In politics, polls tell you what people are feeling about certain issues. This is very important for a political leader to know. After all, leadership is about taking people on a journey, and it begins with knowing where your people are.
When the opinion of the people you are leading is right on target, then by all means we need to go with it. However, once in a while, it is clear that the crowd is not where they need to be. Take President Lincoln for example. Some polls indicate that over 60-80% of the population supported some form of slavery.
President Lincoln’s job as the leader was neither to force the population to do the right thing (that would be dictatorship), nor succumb to the polls of popular opinion to dictate his direction. His job was to work diligently to change popular opinion as much as possible. And that is what he did to a certain extent.
Can we apply this to our teams as non-political leaders?
I believe it is important to connect with my team on a personal level. It’s important to know what they are thinking and how they are feeling. Knowing where they are (ie: the poll statistics) should give me an understanding of their perspective.
However, it is imperative that as leaders we are clear as to the direction we are going. Be confident, but not arrogant. Be clear, but not self-righteous. Be bold, but not abusive.
Sometimes as leaders we get so beaten down that we cower to too many things—including popular demand. Let’s stand up tall and lead strong. All the great leaders of history and business do that…
Let’s be innovative like Steve Jobs, who insisted that the iPhone was possible.
Let’s be courageous like Dr. King, who insisted that segregation is not acceptable.
Let’s be steadfast leaders, who are cognizant of what our people believe, but bold enough to execute the vision.
Question: On a scale of 1-10, how much weight do you give popular opinion in your leadership decisions?
Please leave your response in the comment section below.
For Further Reading: