You know exactly what your team needs to do. You know precisely how they should do it. But they keep on doing things differently. The wrong ‘what’, the wrong ‘how’, and poor results. If after many sessions of (im)patiently listening and trying to influence them, things don’t change, chances are you are either thinking about buying a book on ‘influencing skills’, or you have decided to make use of your authority to get your point of view implemented.
Well – set yourself up for additional moments of disappointment, because in most cases that’s the result you’re most likely to reach.

Giving instructions, as clear as they might be, or pressuring team members, as gently or harsh as you think should be, leads to compliance: simple execution of your requests, and that is in the best case. Compliance is reactive, hierarchically defined, and typically lacks passion and ownership. It is what you get when people feel instructions are dumped upon them, without taking into account their situation, and when they consider they have no choice.

Unfortunately compliance goes from average to worse. In the best cases, the team welcomes your decision, even if you didn’t ask them, because it somehow meets their needs.

The compliance you get is genuine (“Let’s do it”) and results might be good – yet there was no free choice. In many more cases, compliance will only be formal: the team members agree with you, but are bothered by the way the instructions were forced upon them. (“Apparently we have to do this; it’s probably right, but don’t shoot us if it doesn’t work”).

And formal compliance can rapidly degenerate into grudging compliance when the team sees a lot of disadvantages and only few advantages to your way of doing things (“What a stupid idea. If we can continue to do things the old way without being noticed, we’ll be very happy”). It can get worse still: no compliance (“I refuse to do it this way”), and if you push it, you might even get the ultimate reaction of resistance: vicious obedience (“OK – we’ll do what you say – and we will make sure you regret having given this instruction…”).

Got the point? Compliance is rarely leading to true motivation…

So wouldn’t it be better to empower your team members rather than instruct them? To let them design the solution rather than impose it? To let them own the process rather than pressuring them?

That is the typical nature of enrollment. Searching for enrollment is the superior approach to lead your people, the one we urge you to adopt. It is proactive, not hierarchical, and leads to dedication and engagement. It consists of involving the team when reflecting on the way forward. To that end, it is your role as a leader to define the scope of reflection (such as the objectives to be reached; some key problems to be avoided; the regulatory requirements to be taken into account,…), and perhaps some boundaries (if you can explain why these boundaries are so crucial). But your authority and influence shouldn’t go further than that: up to the team now to (help) create their own solutions, creatively and in partnership.

Enrollment goes from good to better, paving the way to commitment, then to accountability – which compliance never does. Commitment from team members is what you get when their enrollment is boosted by their personal dedication and by their engagement to act on their proposed way forward. Accountability is when your team members add to commitment (and to enrollment) their true ownership and engagement to succeed. You just hooked them into true motivation…

So, you wanted to influence people and reach a (mutual) desired outcome? Enrollment is the answer. You’re interested how to create enrollment in practice? We suggest three practical levers:  empowerment, fulfillment, and teaming. We use them in our leadership development practice, with clients ranging from SME’s and NGO’s to global Fortune 500. We explain and detail them in our training sessions “Succeeding in Business Leadership”. We grow these as leadership skills in our executive coaching programs. And we assess how much these are present in your organization through our leadership assessments. We’d be happy to talk more about these; they are the ingredients to success and they are fun to apply…  (and yes – you might still buy that book on influencing skills).

Contact us for action!