You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower
The musical conductor is my example of an effective leader, especially when it comes to this topic of push vs. pull leadership. The conductor is perceived by some as a dictator. That’s not true. It’s not possible to make anyone do anything with a little white stick. The conductor is a person of influence who brings the music out of the participants. As musicians develop a higher functioning, they attain what’s called “ensemble.” Instead of giving up individual skills, the musicians attain an extra level of excellence in becoming an ensemble. This is an example of “pull” leadership.
Here are some examples of push leadership:
- Ordering people to do things
- Using the power of position
- Leveraging compensation
- Criticizing through performance reviews
Push leaders make people do things and create negative feelings, damaging the culture of collaboration. They manage by fear, creating relationships that are not amicable.
By contrast, here are some examples of pull leadership:
- Creating mutually shared values and guiding principles together
- Appreciating the work and the individual
Pull leaders create a culture of cooperation, inspiring individual initiative and collaboration, and creating an “ensemble of excellence” in a higher-functioning team.
We have been taught that the leader is the expert and knows what to do, and that delegation is a weakness in leadership rather than recognizing that it’s a strength in leadership. We don’t need to have all the right answers; we need to have good questions that inspire and motive the team to think, solve problems, and grow.
Facilitating meetings is somewhat like conducting a musical rehearsal. The leader guides the process, makes adjustments in the process and performance, and drives to previously defined outcomes. The leader creates the space for others to function upward.
Rather than striving to always be right, it’s important for the leader to ensure that others are always right. Creating the space and the process for others to grow is a primary goal of pull leadership.
Mentor, teach, encourage, and inspire others, and everyone wins.
The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM