I have many friends who believe deeply in a something, the existence of a particular problem. For them, it is THE Problem. Many people share this belief, but many people do not. I am in the do-not-believe category. For this Problem to be solved, my friends envision a certain set of actions to be necessary. I am not willing to engage in those actions, because (well) I do not believe in the Problem.
Nonetheless, my friends are trying to lead me to join them in these Problem-solving actions. I believe they know the way and have certainly pointed the way for me. And yet, I will not move, despite them hitting both L1 and L2, repeatedly. There is a sense of urgency in this Problem, so I don’t resent it when they call me stupid for not joining them. I get why they are frustrated. I’m frustrated by my Life Problem as well. But calling me stupid has not worked (in the sense of making me move) either.
The other day one of my Problem-believing friends asked me what he would have to do cut through my obtuseness. My response: persuade me. “Persuade you?” he asked.
“Yeah. Start at the edge of what I do believe and persuade me to your position. Show me the arguments that support your belief and erode the foundation of my beliefs otherwise. Persuade me.”
“But what if we don’t have time for that?” He asked.
“Then quit trying with me and find guys who need less persuading.” I responded.
“What if I just gave up and tried to make you follow me?” He asked.
“Then I’ll fight you with every ounce of energy I have, and you will then surely accomplish nothing.” I said.
I think leadership is a rare quality. Very few men know the way, and fewer still can point it. But is the L3 that is really in shortest supply. Most men who would call themselves leaders never even try to persuade their followers to action. They go straight to compulsion and mandate, which foments resistance. Or (worse in my opinion), they employ chicanery, which breeds resentment when discovered (as it always is).
A leader must persuade to be followed. It is an art (not a science) that requires deep committment to learn, and love and persistence to apply.
And thus, L3: the third indispensable skill of a leader. He can persuade the reluctant to follow him.