Going From Title to Traction

If you want people to follow you, you have to ascend the leadership ladder, rung by rung.  If you skip a rung, you won’t get to the top.  Here is a brief description of the rungs:

Title: Someone gave you a title!  Whoo hoo!  You’ve arrived!  Only – you’re not the leader yet; not even close. Your title merely suspends the team’s cynicism temporarily. Your title is, at best, a running start.  Welcome to your 30-day honeymoon.

Thumbs up: If, while on your 30-day honeymoon, you prove that you can make life better for your team, they’ll give you a tentative thumbs-up.  As you stay the course, the thumbs-up gets stronger.  Once you’ve got their full consent, you can start to get something done.

Traction: Now that your team fully believes in you, you’re going to start to produce.

If, as leader you get hung up, it’s almost always between Title and Thumbs-up.  Think of a young guy who buys a girl a ring, marries her, and then gets busy finding work and getting a mortgage and forgets about getting her Thumbs-up.  It doesn’t work.  He’s got to earn that role of husband.  It isn’t automatically awarded just because he went through a wedding ceremony.

Here are some behaviours that earn your way from Title to Thumbs-up

  • Keeping your promises
  • Leading by example
  • Caring for those around you
  • Getting involved, not issuing orders
  • Working harder than you expect your team to
  • Helping find solutions
  • Showing fairness
  • Listening first to understand, then to be understood

Bear in mind that when you bring a new person to the team, you start at the bottom rung with them, and have to earn their thumbs-up all over again.  Be patient, and keep climbing.  You will get there!

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