Back in the day, the expectation of leaders was that it was the athlete/employee’s job to adapt to the leader. You know, “my way or the highway.” The primary motivational tool was fear. I am sorry to say, this tool is still popular among some organizational leaders today.
The leader is afraid that his “crew” won’t take him/her seriously and the crew is afraid of demotion or loss of their job. If you are afraid of making a mistake can you play with any freedom? I don’t think so.
If you are a designated leader and you dominate with fear to get your way, all you will have is a group of people avoiding your domination. They may even appear to be on the same page with you, but I doubt you will ever get their best effort.
When I say what I just said to someone, the question I’m often asked is, “How can you control your team?” The answer I give is, “You can’t.” The truth is you can’t control anyone. Control is a completely failed exercise. It is a myth. We can’t really control ourselves most of the time. So, can we control anyone else? Not likely.
So, what works? First of all, it is up to you to create a relationship with each member of your team. To do that two things need to be clear; one, that you respect them, and two, that they are clear about what you are working on together. These two things are continually present in every interaction with each other.
Those two things are the tracks your relationship runs on. As the leader, there are two things you need to be—kind and empathetic. Kindness is an intention to express your regard for them as a human being. No demeaning conversations at any time, especially in front of the team or the general public. Empathy is not sympathy. Empathy is coming from “I’ve been in you shoes and I appreciate what you are going through.” At the same time, you are going to hold them to the commitments and promises they have made.
If you don’t do this you are “selling out” on them. You need to be the person who says, “You can do this.” You are the rawhide in their life. They may test you in many ways and you may stretch, but you don’t break. You never give up on them. If you see you need to let them go, it is because they are on the wrong bus and are just not in a place to deliver what you both need. They will thank you some day.