5 Ways to Find the Worm

If the people you push felt powerful, they’d reject you. In their hearts they already do.

Pushing people isn’t leadership. Sometimes people need a swift kick in the pants. But, kicking, pushing, pressuring, and correcting play limited roles in leadership.

People push themselves, when you tap their inner drives
and get out of the way.



What happens when you feel pressured? You dig your heels in. Others do the same thing.

They tolerate bullying because you control paychecks, promotions, and assignments. They feel powerless.

Powerless people don’t take action.

You steal people’s power when you push them. The result, you have to push them more.


I took the kids fishing when they were little. Mindy didn’t like putting worms on the hook, so I stood nearby. Mostly, we fed sunfish.

I could have taped hammers to the hooks to beat the sunnies into submission. But, fish are timid and hammers scary.


Effective fishing is understanding and adapting to fish.

You don’t have to convince fish to love worms.

Leading is asking, “What’s their worm?”

A fish chasing a worm feels excited, not pressured.

5 ways to find the worm:

  1. Adapt to others.
  2. Understand where “they” want to go and take them there. Align their vision with organization vision.
  3. Perceive the passions of others. Effective leaders are passionate about the passion of others.
  4. Listen and affirm more than correct.
  5. Make people feel powerful.

Bonus: Create safe environments. The point-of-influence happens when someone trusts you enough to lower their defenses.

When you find someone’s worm, you don’t need a hammer.

How can leaders tap into the inner drives of colleagues and teammates?

Note: I was fortunate to spend yesterday afternoon with Stan Endicott, founder of Slingshot Group. During our conversation, he illustrated enticement with a fishing story from his youth. Our conversation inspired this post. Thanks Stan!