"Leaders don't convince people to follow them. Leaders walk forward, and those who want to go down their path decide to follow." – Simon Sinek
Have you ever been in the presence of a leader who draws you in, engages you, and helps pull your talents and skills out, inspiring you to continue growing? Someone who seems magnetic, pulling people forward with them, rather than pushing them? This is a pull leader, one who attracts people to them, inspiring growth, dedication and results.
So, what exactly is the difference between a pull leader and a push one? If pull is so effective, why aren’t all leaders using this style of leadership?
Push leaders typically spend a lot of time convincing their team that a direction is the right one, trying to sell ideas, rather than having people buy into them. This often results in either (1) unnecessary hustle by the leader (chasing, following up, micro-managing, etc.) or (2) a dictatorship-style of leadership where the leader falls into the “do it because I said so” mindset.
Push leaders are often great at achieving short-term results, with lots of small wins along the way. However, this type of leadership doesn’t engage a team and won’t see long-term sustainability, as there isn’t much regard for the bigger picture or personal impact.
Unlike the push leader, pull leaders are fantastic at building momentum, engaging their people along the way and proactively pulling people towards a specific vision. These are leaders who create engaging teams while still maintaining high standards that achieve real results. Pull leaders develop true partners in their team, engaging them in their roles in a way that allows them to show up with more of their talents, motivated to put them to use. Pull leaders see long-term results both for their overall organization and for their people.
A pull leader sees themselves as part of their team, encouraging future objectives to be built together and in a way that taps into what people want to do in their role. This leader approach often sees outside talent asking to be part of the team.
What’s interesting about pull leadership is that it often feels very counterintuitive, since results may not be immediate. The pull style also appears to focus on development first, then results. In reality, results are always the focus; development is the long-term strategy for sustainable results.
Showing Up As A Pull Leader
Just as with anything new, showing up as a pull leader is about developing specific skills. Yes, there is going to be a bit of natural talent for some – whether it’s an ability to listen or think of the bigger picture – but magnetic leaders enhance their skills rather than relying solely on natural talents. Specifically, pull leaders are able to:
• Influence: You are able to help people see your thinking and understand it themselves, rather than forcing them to believe your idea. While this skill takes longer, when you’re able to influence, you’re able to get your team to do things because they understand whythey’re doing it, not just because you said so.
• Define “Winning:” Do your people actually know what they’re working towards — what their “win” is going to be? Help your team identify what the long-term positive impacts of their work is, highlighting how they’re actually winning in moving the company’s purpose forward.
• Delegate, Empower, and Trust: When your people get the why behind the work, let them worry about the how. Empower and trust them to use their skills and have autonomy over the how. In doing this, you’re helping them grow their mastery in their own expertise, fuelling their own fire for long-term growth. When you delegate, empower, and trust, you don’t micromanage the talents out of people.
• Balance People and Results: You develop a balance between empathy for your people, alongside building boundaries and holding people accountable. As a leader, you’re accountable for the growth of your people in addition to the results of your company. Pull leaders find this balance between relationships and achievements.
• Be Authentic. You are your most professional self, but you remain transparent and honest without oversharing. You have a sincere interest in people and genuinely show gratitude, coupled with confidence and humility.
• Invest in Personal Development. This demonstrates your ability to be vulnerable in knowing that you, as a leader, have more to learn. While this grows your development, you also quietly give permission to others to invest in their development, the definition of leading by example.
• Be Emotionally Intelligent. Pull leaders are not reactive stress baskets with stress oozing out of them. While you’ll still have stress as a pull leader, you’re better equipped to cope with this. In addition, part of your development is in listening to feedback, then implementing it. Emotionally intelligent leaders are able to do this without getting defensive or shutting down.
Ultimately, pull leadership leads to greater engagement, better balance between getting the work done — both with better results and relationships — and focuses on creating longer-term results that support not just the organization, but also the growth of your people. In the long-term, pull leadership is the easier path as it drives better quality results and employee engagement at the same time.
Imagine how pulling your people forward could transform your team.
By Jenn Lofgren, CPHR, MCC
Specializing in Leadership & Executive Coaching, Jenn Lofgren is a Master Certified Coach who becomes a thought-partner for evolving leaders. HER WEBSITE