7 Ways Exceptional Leaders Bring Others Along

Great leaders know how to shift people’s thinking.

Great leaders know how to convince people to do something new or different.

Great leaders know how to anticipate resistance, and how to deal with it head on.

There’s no magic formula for building a strong coalition of people who will buy into and commit to a new program or idea.

But if we look closely at leaders who are really good at motivating and influencing change, we start to notice some common themes.

How do you get others to follow behind you?

Show a united front. Leaders who take the time to work through their differences, compromise and agree on outcomes will have a much easier time bringing their people along. Be sure your entire leadership team is totally aligned in what they say and how they show up.

Get granular. Too often the “future vision” is way too broad and vague. Give specific examples people can relate to. What new behaviors are expected? What will be different in someone’s day-to-day work tasks? 

Appeal to emotions. One client manager tasked with leading a big culture change in his organization follows the mantra “move me”. He knows that in order to make change stick, he has to captivate hearts and minds. With a deep understanding of his people, he shares books, videos, and quotes that resonate deeply with their background and experiences.

Expect and plan for push back and questions. Don’t take it personally when people don’t jump on board with the change right away. Anticipate where and why people might resist. Listen to their point of view and don’t get defensive. Rally the leadership team on how to consistently respond to and address concerns. 

Polish Up. Details matter. Every little thing creates an overall impression when communicating change. Are leaders modeling the change they want to see in their people? Are leaders polished and engaging? Are materials professional with no typos? Do meetings start and end on time? 

Be sincere, authentic and transparent. While it’s great to share positive stories and examples of success, be honest about what will be hard. People are smart and see right through corporate talk. They appreciate candor and real-talk.

Thank those who are making the shift. Public recognition is powerful. Show appreciation for people and teams who are making an effort to change. Ask them to share their experiences so others can see what’s possible.

How do you build a coalition for change?


Marta Steele is a Partner at PeopleResults and can be followed on Twitter @MartaSteele.