Convincing vs. Inspiring Leadership

When it comes to change, convincing people is tricky territory.

If successful, you get what you want in the short-term, but if people go against their own instincts, concerns, or even expertise to buy in on your idea, plan, product, service, or initiative, they won’t cooperate with the same energy. In the end, they may become forces of inertia or resistance, or even sabotage. You may get people to suspend their doubts and concerns and act, but they may regret it later. Then, you lose them and anyone they might have brought with them forever.

Buyer’s remorse is usually due to having been convinced to buy something that may prove not to be the solution it was promised to be.

In the Courageous Leader 5-Day Challenge, we also talked about intimidation. It has been a primary tool of conventional leadership, though it hasn’t always been covert. Any form of discipline at a job can be considered intimidation. Holding someone’s job over their head is a form of intimidation. While it is necessary to let poorly performing employees go, it is also right to put them on a corrective action plan (PIP – Performance Improvement Plan) before doing so to give them a chance to redeem themselves. Yet, still, it is intimidation, just a less aggressive form.

So what’s wrong with intimidation? It’s counter-productive. When a person is focused on survival, their brain allocates more resources to that cause and takes resources away from higher cognitive functions, such as creativity, motivation, emotional intelligence, and problem-solving. This puts workplaces at higher risk for errors – ethical, work-related, communication-related, etc. This leads to increased risks and losses that you may not notice too well on a balance sheet, but are none-the-less areas where companies lose a lot.

(During the Courageous Leader 5-Day Challenge, we also talked about how intimidation can be completely on the receiving side. You can always watch the challenge replays available in C3 if you want to learn more about that conversation.)

The rise of servant leadership has transformed the idea of a boss generating team performance by giving orders into a model that flips the relationship upside-down. The boss is there to hire the best talent, then essentially get out of their way, and remove any other obstacles to talent doing their best work. It turns the boss into an advocate in procuring resources that make working easier, and also creating conducive conditions to do so. This is not a bad model, but it does rely on talent to be self-motivated, self-accountable, and aligned with the corporate mission and purpose. If they are not, it also places the burden on the boss to be fully accountable for that. Additionally, it’s not a model without inherent risks, because without the leaders in this model holding individual team members accountable for their own performance AND engagement, entitlement ensues.

I have heard personal accounts from so many professionals and executives over the years about their workplaces. I’ve found that the companies that are reviewed the highest by my clients, prospects, and contacts have clear and compelling missions and values, and they intertwine them into everything that they do – how they make decisions, what they invest in, and what is prioritized in their workflows. It becomes a litmus test, and something that empowers employees to make decisions without needing approval. Doing this inspires aligned engagement, which is a much more fortified, resilient type of engagement – the kind needed during times like these.

Inspiring is different. You achieve inspiration when you demonstrate alignment with what the collective highest-self values are, and when you mitigate fears by validating them and demonstrating how fears and concerns will be addressed.

First, you have to find out what the values and the fears are. For that, you need psychological safety.

How do you create psychological safety? Attend Tuesday’s Answer the Call to Conscious Leadership event and hear from Rebecca Morgan, Psychological Safety expert, and best-selling author. Gain access to this event by joining the C3: Corporate Consciousness Co-op group.

Take her Psychological Safety survey to see how your company is doing.

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (, is founder of Epic Careering, a 13-year-old leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. 

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where some of her students won the 2018 national competition, were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 


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