In our Wednesday mastermind group this week, we had a long and rich conversation about the difference between being a driven leader vs. drawn-to leader.
Let me start by defining each.
A Driven Leader
A person who pushes and pulls their way forward in order to meet and exceed goals.
A Drawn-to Leader
A person who claims enough creative space to let new ideas formulate and draw them in.
Which ‘Should’ You be?
A member said, “I should be more driven”—the statement resonated with others. As entrepreneurs and business owners, we sometimes feel like we aren’t pushing and pulling hard enough. We aren’t busy enough, or we aren’t doing enough to create the latest, greatest thing that will launch the business forward.
Of course, the ‘shoulds’ are always a trap and are rarely helpful, but in this case, it opened up a conversation about the alternative.
The alternative is the drawn-to leader. In this case, the statement was, “I should take more time to read and learn and dream.”
Again, the ‘should’ statements are generally framed negatively and lead us down a path of fear and worry.
Ultimately, the question is, “Which is better for moving the business forward – driving or being drawn to?”
Which is better for moving the business forward – driving or being drawn to?
When a group is trying to answer a question like this, each individual goes into their bank of stories and finds evidence of when one way or the other worked for them.
Story #1 – Being Driven
“As a constantly pushing leader, I lean toward driving as a leadership tactic to keep the business moving forward. I recall a time that a division of our company had a generally lackluster performance record. They had grown very accustomed to sitting back and watching the action around them and completing tasks as needed. They were doing just enough to get by, but the difference between their department and others was illustrated at every meeting when the directors shared ideas, progress reports, and status updates. After a while, I decided to give them a bit of a kick in the pants starting with their director.
The director wasn’t a natural leader and hadn’t ever been challenged in this way. He wasn’t lazy; he just needed to be trained in a different way of thinking that sees opportunities and is excited about filling gaps rather than being a taskmaster and puppet.
By getting clear on goals and his role in executing them AND by getting him an executive coach, his eyes were opened to the way he was supposed to perform. He was on fire with excitement. It took a bit of time, but ultimately this department has shifted and has become a top performer in our business.
By pushing and pulling to improve, our business is better and our leaders are happier.”
Story #2 – Being Drawn-to
“The last two weeks have been light. I haven’t had as many meetings or projects to work on. At first, I went through the same pattern I typically do when this happens — I panic. ‘OH NO, what if it’s all falling apart.’ Then, I pulled myself back and just enjoyed the slower days.
I didn’t put any pressure on myself. In fact, the timing aligned with some Spring days in my area, so I took advantage of it and got out for some long walks. I also picked up a couple of books I’d been meaning to read and connected with a couple of people I had neglected recently.
What emerged, which was unexpected, was a series of conversations, resources, and questions that converged to form creative energy and ideas that were new, interesting, and fun to explore.
This way of opening my thinking draws me to incredible ideas that show me the path forward in my business.”
Balancing Your Styles
The consensus on which is the better style? BOTH!
As leaders, we find the path to progress in various ways. Sometimes we push and pull and grind through the daily tasks and lessons, then results emerge. Other times, we dream first then follow up with a plan.
Neither is wrong. Both are useful.
The key for most leaders is finding time and space to do both. Of course, there are days when we have to be amidst the hard tactical work. But, there are other times when we need to intentionally remove ourselves to find the creative space to be drawn-to new ideas.
Whatever your natural style, consider the alternative and give it a try!