Leadership for Life – Get Moving!

By on March 16, 2015
Leadership for Life - Get Moving!

Every once in a while, I hear complaints from people about how they can’t seem to get a bunch of people moving in the same direction at the same time. “It’s like herding cats!” they say. While I’ve never tried to herd a clowder (just showin’ off) of cats, I have had some experience with getting groups of kids (they’re people, right?) moving in the desired direction.

Many years ago, I worked as a camp counselor at a sleep-away camp in the Poconos. You would think that when the lunch bell went off, the kids would begin moving toward it immediately. But noooooo, they would mill around, get involved in all sorts of extraneous activities, and generally procrastinate instead of getting their bodies moving toward the dining hall. When I expressed my frustration to my supervisor, he gave me some advice that holds true to this day.

He suggested I figure out who was the “indigenous leader” of the group. He didn’t use that term, I’m just showin’ off again. Once you know the kid that everyone else looks up to, come up to him/her, put your hand on their shoulder and apply some gentle pressure, and begin walking in the desired direction. At the same time, say out loud, “We’re going to lunch now,” and keep walking with the star of the group. Miraculously, everyone else will immediately follow along.

My supervisor added that what you say is important. “We’re going …” is much preferred over “Let’s go …” since it refers to an activity in progress, rather than an order.

Fast forwarding to the present, do you ever find yourself in situations where you want to introduce a change, or simply get everyone to come to a consensus on a direction for the group (company) to go in? You might try looking for the person in the group or organization who is closest to being a peer of the group you’re trying to influence, and has the esteem and respect of the rank and file. That’s the person you have to convince. Even better is to have that person introduce the change or the suggestion to move to everyone else.

You’ll be the best cat herder in town.

About Barry Schapiro

Barry is the Workforce Solutions Group Practice Leader for Leadership and Professional Development. His experience includes delivery and management of business training in a variety of industries, with specialties in leadership, team development, generational diversity, and customer service. Twitter

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