The Best Leaders Don’t Make Anyone Do Anything

The Best Leaders Don’t Make Anyone Do Anything July 9, 2020

One of the great challenges we face in our leadership training seminars is the motivation many leaders have for inviting us in. Too often, we see leaders who want us to swoop in and tell the employees to do what the boss tells them to do. These leaders want a culture of positivity and productivity and, to many of them, that means convincing others to do what they want.

The truth is the best leaders don’t make anyone do anything. You can’t really make anyone do something. You can hold up the consequences for certain actions. You can scream until you are red in the face. You can try to control, manipulate, or incentivize, but you really cannot force people to do something.


The Value of Freedom

And really, you don’t want to. Trying to make someone do something is glossing over one very important reality within an organization.

People are more motivated by desire, passion, and vision than anything else. They want to see the value of their work, the joy of their relationships. People are motivated by purpose. Fear only works as a motivator because we are scared we won’t achieve purpose. And that only goes so far because the more consistently we are afraid, the more we realize we are not participating in purpose.

One of the tools we use is called The Freedom V and it teaches leaders how to set boundaries and carry out consequences for both themselves and their employees in a way that honors the mission rather than our fragile emotions.

People need to be presented with the options and celebrated for their decisions. Of course, we can’t just celebrate terrible decisions, so how do we make them choose the right choices?

We can’t.

As a leader, all you can do is present the mission of your organization with honesty and vigor. And allow people to choose to participate in it, to join you as a co-owner. Or not.



The word we have for this is “self-governance”. The idea is that you encourage and empower people to find what they truly value and discover how to set up their lives in such a way that they are free to achieve what really matters to them.

If your organization does not align with what they truly value, everyone is wasting their time. But it probably does. There is a way to do everything with excellence, joy, and peace. There is a way to incorporate just about every noble activity to just about every noble value. The key as a leader is to help your people see how their values align with the mission of the organization.

Not to control. Not to force through fear. But to inspire. To cast vision and trust your people to choose.

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