Adapt or Alienate

When I tried making it as a fiction author, I joined a writing group. The members of the group were nice, and the evenings of review were well organized. But my writing drew blank stares.

I was a poor fit because I was a speculative fiction writer (science fiction, horror, and fantasy), and the rest of the group wrote sports, inspirational, and religious pieces. My vehicle for evoking a response (which any good story should do) was a poor fit for the audience.

Leaders often struggle with this when addressing morale, burn out, or change. If the needs, concerns, and hurdles being faced by the front-line employees aren’t taken into account, then leaders often employ motivators which are meaningless and ineffective. The vehicle for evoking a response needs to meet people where they are. You cannot strong-arm people into conforming to your way of doing thing. (Try it, and watch how many people begin to dig in, go around you, or just leave.) You need to be persuasive.

Take time to understand your people and craft your message so it touches on their values.

Once I understood the disconnect between the writing group and my writing, I had a choice, I could adapt, I could move on, or I could stay someplace where I was neither adding nor receiving value.

As a leader, if your people aren’t motivated the same way that you are, you can learn what motivates them and adapt, you can find a new team, or you can tell your people to get in line and ride out the ensuing mediocrity.

Leadership is difficult, but it is in your power to find success, or to fail your people and your objectives.

The same choice exists if you are an employee. You can meet your leaders where they are, you can find something new, or you can do your time and collect your paycheck for doing unsatisfying work.

We all win with a bit of effort at understanding, compromising, and learning to communicate in a way that our audience is best able to receive our message.