7 Ways to Lead People Who Don’t Want to Lead

As leaders, an important part of our work is helping others developing their leadership abilities. But what can you do about people who don’t think of themselves as leaders?

There are many reasons why people who could be great leaders don’t want to lead. They may have outdated or incorrect beliefs about leadership or a bad experience in their past. Whatever the origin of their resistance, you need to first understand it so you can address it.

Here are some of the common obstacles people put in their own leadership path. If you have a reluctant leader, there’s a good chance that one or more of these will apply:

They’re simply afraid. There are people who really want to lead but are fearful they might not have what it takes. Help them understand that fear is a natural emotion when you step outside your comfort zone, but you have to feel the fear and do it anyway.

They’re waiting for an opportunity. As leaders, we’re accustomed to taking initiative on our own. But many others have the opposite mindset—they’re waiting patiently waiting for a place to lead. Find ways to show those who are waiting to know this is their time. Help them find inspiration by steering them toward an area where they can make an impact, and make sure they know their abilities are needed.

They don’t know how. Beginning leaders always have more questions than answers, and some think that means they need to wait to lead until they know more or have more experience. You can best help these people by offering to mentor them or getting them a coach or a class. Remind them that no one starts out knowing everything and that successful leaders are always learning. Make sure they see you watching, listening, reading, and asking questions.

They’ve failed in the past. If someone’s held a leadership role in the past and it didn’t work out, they may be reluctant to try again. This is a great opportunity to motivate someone who has given up to try again with a reminder that best leaders have failed many times, perhaps more times than they have succeeded. As someone once said, success is a combination of what you learn through failures. Talk about some of your own failures and what you learned from them. Show the importance of tenacity and make sure they know you believe in them.

They’re waiting for a leadership title. Some people believe they aren’t in a position to lead unless their title is manager or director. As a leader, it’s your job to help everyone on your team find a way to lead from within and discover the ways they can serve or add value to others. Focus on the gifts and talents of everyone on your team and make sure people know that if they inspire or influence someone, whatever their role, they are a leader.

Lead from within: Leadership is not a destiny granted to a few but a choice available to all of us and if we don’t embrace it, we won’t find it.



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The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness


After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Joy Royston

    18. Jul, 2019

    Lolly – I so appreciate these valuable reminders on the true purpose of leadership. Joy

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