Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Are you a Puller or a Pusher?

Do you think the word Leadership is overused?

I was fortunate to be a part of the 2012 Chick-fil-a Leadercast. One of the speakers was Urban Meyer, the football coach at Ohio State University (formerly the University of Florida). He was asked how he defines "leadership" and gave a surprising response.

He said, "That's a word we throw around a lot, isn't it? I try to keep it simple. I define it as the ability to elevate the performance of those around you." I think that is an AWESOME answer!

When I take that definition and filter it through my own experience as a leader, I immediately ask, "Do I elevate the performance of those around me?" Then I stop and think,
"If I'm not elevating, then what am I doing?" If elevating people is pulling them up, the converse would be pushing them down...right? When you think about it, the primary way one can establish themselves as a leader is by pulling people up or by pushing them down?

So are you a Puller or a Pusher?

I think most people have a good handle on how to be a pusher. It's our natural instinct to put others down, see the problem before the solution and quit before trying. This is why now is a great time to set yourself apart as a leader. There's plenty of people following the Pusher model. God has a different model, the Puller model.  We are able to pull people when we show them love that overflows from our love for Him.  

Matthew 22:35-41

New International Version (NIV)

35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Let me offer three things you can do TODAY to be a Puller:

1) Smile and speak to people.
A classic phrase in this area of leadership is, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." If we want to set ourselves apart as leaders, the simple act of loving people will get you noticed. The majority of people are too absorbed in their own lives and neglect to connect with others through simple acknowledgments. If we will just give others the gift of a smile, speak to them and show interest in them, we will earn the right to speak into their lives. We need to be more concerned with learning as much about others than them learning about us.
2) Identify the value in others and make them feel good about who they are.
If you spend enough time with people, you'll quickly discover their strengths. When you make that discovery, drill down on that area with compliments and affirmations.  God has a specific plan for every person He created. The driving force behind that plan is not self-promotion. His plan is all about engaging with other people. As pullers we have a responsibility for the people we lead. We should be looking for how we can position them for success...their success, not ours.
3) Serve people.
This is one is easy. Just look for opportunities to do something for the people you lead. You must be willing to humble yourself. Andy Andrews puts it like this: "When a king begins to act like a king, it is not long before someone else is king. Serving is a way to place value on one another." (The Traveler's Gift) I work with a couple of leaders who are pretty awesome servants. We realize that our friendship together makes us stronger leaders individually. Serving them makes me stronger. I've coined the phrase: You love to serve when you serve with those you love.
So what are you? A Puller or a Pusher? Do you know a Puller or a Pusher? What characteristics have you noticed that will identify each one?

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