Pushing or Pulling

A message from author, motivational speaker, and leadership expert Jim Stovall.

All of us need to become successful leaders. No matter who you are, you are leading and being led all the time. We must be aware of who we are following and who is following us. Leadership is among the most discussed and least understood topics.  Ronald Regan said, “Great leaders don’t necessarily do great things. They inspire others to do great things.”

There are two basic types of leadership that can move people from one point to another. One type of leader pushes people, and the other type of leader pulls people.

Leaders who push would include drill instructors in the military. They are seeking reliable, consistent performance from a group of young people who are going to be put in life and death situations. While leaders who push are not the most successful in many situations, they are ideal within this type of military setting. Leaders who pull us get out in front and lead by example. They make us want to be better and encourage us to bring our unique talents and abilities to the task at hand.

Every leader will have to both push and pull at various times. My late, great friend and mentor, the legendary Coach John Wooden, was arguably the most successful coach and leader of young men. His record of championship basketball teams will probably never be broken, but more importantly, his lifelong influence on the players who went through his program remains unparalleled. Coach Wooden often told me that he always endeavored to treat everyone fairly, but he didn’t treat everyone the same way. He was fond of repeating, “There are some players who simply need a gentle pat on the back, and there are other players who need the pat a lot lower and harder.”

I’ve long believed that a leader is a leader all the time. Great leaders don’t get a day off.  We can all call to mind government leaders, sports stars, business icons, and other celebrities who gained a position of influence and leadership throughout a lifetime of effort but lost it through a momentary moral lapse or poor judgment. People will remember and follow what you do much more than what you simply say.

In our totally-connected and instantaneous digital world today, it is more important than ever that we remain diligent with regard to our actions, standards, and reputation. People who could have been tremendous leaders in coming years have damaged their credibility through social media. Although the world has greatly changed, leaders face the same challenges our ancestors did.

Being a leader is not an assignment, a job, or a title. It is the constant effort to become and remain someone worth following.

As you go through your day today, be mindful of who you are leading and who is leading you.

Today’s the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082; by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; on Twitter at www.twitter.com/stovallauthor; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor.


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