Monica Wofford, CSP, teaches leaders to understand and improve their own leadership in using practice, skills, and desire as their three areas of focus.

Would your team jump through hoops of fire to do as you ask?

Bill was a powerful figure at the office. His leadership style was one that caused people to listen, but only because they felt they had to. They feared for their jobs and frankly what he might say next depending upon his mood. The theme song the team had created for him was reminiscent of Jaws. Each day was a gamble as to whether the smallest issue would cause a volcanic eruption or a mere nod and point of his finger, as if he were Jean Luc Picard saying “engage”. He was well respected by those he reported to, which was only one level up, yet those he led weren’t sure if they’d rather run from him or work with him on most days.

Jonathan had a different style. He’d actually been in the organization longer than Bill, but often kept his achievements under the radar. His list of awards was lengthy, but his megaphone for announcing them seemed to have long ago run out of batteries, yet the team he led would have jumped through hoops of fire for him. They always knew he’d be there if there was a problem. His door was always in fact, open. His answer to “gotta sec?” wasn’t always yes, but he made time whenever he knew he was really needed and the team couldn’t imagine working with anyone else. It was as if he had a cape and those who reported to him worshiped the ground he walked on, but his boss wasn’t quite sure if he was doing all he could or had learned all he needed and thus had promoted Bill instead for the new VP position.

Are you revered or feared as a leader in your organization? Do those you lead have an intrinsic motivation to follow you because of how you make them feel or do they blame you for how they feel, which is crummy on most days?

Being feared only works for a while, but if you create fear in those you lead, whether in your coaching style, way of giving directions, or sharing of information, rest assured the effect is contagious and will spread to those who don’t even know you well in a hurry. Being revered is a position of respect, but doesn’t need to include worship. It’s merely an appreciation, respect, and perhaps a touch of awe for the kind of leadership you provide. To increase that feeling from those you lead, try the following:

  • Focus more on what they do well than what they do wrong
  • Pay more attention to coaching the star performers more so than you do to those who might not be doing things well
  • Remember the little things: Birthdays, woo-hoo moments, Anniversaries
  • Create many mini Contagious Celebrations for achievements – in the way in which they need them
  • Consider the individual needs, differences, and desires of each team member
  • Treat them as people, not just numbers in your span of control
  • Value people and work to earn their respect, while also respecting the talents you have and the job you need to do

While being revered may not be the only goal of a leader, avoiding the feeling of fear from those you lead may well be a worthy aspiration. What do you think those you lead would say if asked today, how they felt about your leadership style? Does what you do spread throughout the team or organization in a way that motivates camaraderie, performance, and motivation? Are your results and efforts contagious …in the way you want them to be? If not, it’s time to make a plan and look at the above list, incorporating those you may have missed, into your Contagious Leadership style.

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Stay Contagious!


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