Going From Title to Traction

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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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Written by Trevor Throness
Trevor is a veteran coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book “The Power of People Skills” released by Career Press NY in 2017. He’s also written for or been featured in places like Forbes, Inc, The NY Post, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, CEO Magazine, and numerous podcasts and interviews.


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