How to Win by Leaning In
Strong winds blow you down when you lean back. Successful leaders lean into resistance, adversity, failure, and criticism.
Leaning away from resistance is
a sure way to be blown down by resistance.
Welcome and learn from the stormy parts of leading. Don’t reject them.
Leaning-in isn’t fighting-off.
Change encounters resistance. Welcome and lean against resistance or you’ll lose.
- Resistance clarifies purpose and value. It forces you to answer, “Is this effort worth it?”
- Facing adversity strengthens resolve and reinforces commitment. Achievements of worth require commitment.
- Criticism, faced humbly, softens your heart and tempers abrasiveness.
- Failure enables improvement. Lean against mediocrity.
Every noble effort ultimately requires others.
Reject the ease of working alone. Embrace the power of working with others.
Invite others to lean with you and lean with those who dream like you. Leaning with:
Lean for something worthwhile or all you’ll be is adversarial. Everyone may not appreciate the noble dream, but you and your team must.
Some aspects of leadership are best described with storm metaphors. You will face challenge, opposition, resistance, and criticism. Winds will blow against you. Lean in to win.
When the storms erupt:
- Clarify your noble dream.
- Surround yourself with strong people who share the dream.
- Lean in. It’s the only path to progress. Lean back and you’ll blow over.
My friend, Joe Tye, offers a webinar called Persistence and Courage. Learn this and more:
- Three things you must change to conquer fear.
- The Ten Laws of Adversity.
- A simple formula for mental toughness in the face of adversity.
What have you learned about the “leaning in” side of leadership?
An inspirational write-up. A small concern is, what if, as a leader, you’ve realised that you’ve made a wrong decision that had encountered resistance from your staff. Do u still continue to lean in or do u summon your moral courage to acknowledge the mistake and make adjustments to your plans? Personally, I feel that this article may mislead readers whose leadership are not values-driven and think that persisting through their positional leadership is the way to go.
Great addition to the discussion Albert.
Even as leaders adapt, change their mind, or realize they are wrong, leaning into the future is essential.
I’ve been through times in leadership where I leaned away from something but didn’t clearly identify the new thing I was leaning into. That’s defeat.
One might also argue that sometimes leaders should bend like trees in the wind. But that’s another post.
Thanks for this inspirational post. Sometimes one needs to decide which battles to fight – or I should have said: lean against. Looking forward to the note about trees and the wind, maybe there will be my answer.
I have enjoyed leaning back on to strong winds ever since learning to do it at Primary School in England, Britain, UK. It’s fun to feel the strength of the invisible force; and to test it against my own weight. So far there has always been a point of equilibrium where the wind and my body have been in balance; but I have imagined falling backward if the wind were too weak and being blown forward if the wind were too strong. Less so the latter: I’d stay inside (a house of brick rather than of sticks or straw) if that were (or became) a real risk! Nonetheless, one has to beware and be watchful for winds of change that begin to whirl.
Love the imagery in your contribution Ben. Personally, I enjoy situations that require leaning into the wind. It can be invigorating. Of course, too much and we get blown over…. thanks again.
Leaning against circumstances is a strategy to survive. In a strong storm, tall trees fall down and bushes survive. The reason is simple- trees do not lean and bushes lean. You are right that in odd situation, one should lean against. Leaning against is making effort to face, survive and learn. “Leaning in” side of leadership makes leader learn and lead. There are testing time that requires leaders to analyze the situation before they make decisions. So, I believe that leaders make decision not based on what is right or wrong but what is relevant in the context.
I also believe that it is the time that teaches us to lean in. For example when dogs bark on you, could you react to dogs or just lean in to avoid them.
Thanks for your contribution Ajay.
For some reason, I started thinking about the wisdom leaders gain through experience that teaches them some winds aren’t worth facing. Just go with them. Save your energy for relevant storms. Storms that center on crucial parts of the mission and vision.
I liked your comment, ‘Leaders make decision not based on what is right or wrong but what is relevant in the context’. Well said.
Don’t agree with ‘Leaders make decision not based on what is right or wrong but what is relevant in the context’…
those who loose the sense of right and wrong in facing a context are managers not leaders. It is the managers who are trying to negotiate a problem or situation but as Dan says leaders work towards ‘noble dream’ and wouldn’t compromise on ethics.
Leaders aren’t Rajat Guptas of the world, mind you a lofty designation doesn’t make a leader.
Good for enlightening the real danger of deciding with reference to what is relevant in the context. I didn’t really think while commenting from unethical or non-governance agle, You are absolutely right and I am in full agreement to what leaders are expected to do in such situations. Thanks for bringing the clarity to think wisely while handling critical situations.
Whenever I am skiing, I feel that same metaphor… Leaning into the downhill and the bumps actually works best.
Love the metaphor. Leaning in can be exhilarating.
‘Leaning in’ is a novel way of learning and leading. I am confused what really works! It’s good to practise ‘leaning against’, ‘leaning with’, ‘leaning for’ etc. In a nutshell, we need to face difficult situations and challenges of life with courage and positive approach with speed of action.
Dear Dr. Asher,
Yes there is a lot of leaning in this post. In my heart, it’s another way to think about facing the challenges of leadership. Leaning in represents a forward-looking perspective.
I’m trying to challenge and encourage leaders who find themselves in a leadership storm.
I fully appreciate your novel way of making the readers to think bit differently and act rationally with immense courage to benefiit. But, every courageous approach works with presence of mind and forward looking style.
I couldn’t resist putting in my 2 cents here, predominantly because I think this is also a wonderful and inspiring metaphor for PERSONAL leadership.
Lean in to grow 😉
I really enjoyed reading this article on “leaning in”. I thought this was a great concept for any management team to teach their employees. Although sometimes it may be easier to just walk away, it might create a tougher situation. If some would just learn to lean into the process, it may create a more successful outcome. Well said!
I like you post. Thanks for share