Way Maker – Part 2

In this issue we build on last month’s thought of leading in a way that “enables” others (rather than “bossing” them) so that they genuinely want to engage at work, enthusiastically participate, stay committed, and perform at their best.

I really don’t like being lost … or even somewhat unsure which way I should go. And, that discomfort is accentuated when I’ve traveled abroad.

Attempting to get up to speed with a new language, my first focus is trying to identify and remember the local words used on directional signs at the airport / rail station.

In France I wanted SORTIE. In Spain, SALIDA. And in London last fall, I quickly learned I was looking for “WAY OUT” as the descriptive term for EXIT.

With that in mind, I began noticing WAY OUT wherever we went. Some traffic signs instructed drivers to GIVE WAY (yield), but in only one instance did I see WAY IN at an entrance. It must have been 50 to 1 between the number of WAY OUT’s vs. WAY IN’s.

The Leadership Lesson

When we think of “Leader as WAY MAKER,” we’re confronted with the truth employees are continually deciding … “Should I stay or should I go?” (You can thank the English punk rock band The Clash for immortalizing in Rock ‘n Roll history the idea of “being unsure of what to do?”)

That’s because most jobs are not fully satisfying … and most of us yearn for something to make our lives, our work, our experiences, our days, our relationships … more fun, more energizing, more meaningful, more satisfying.

In most workplaces an undercurrent of dissatisfaction or lethargy persists. It doesn’t take too many negative workplace experiences to sour even the best attitudes (one survey suggesting after just 6 months a worker’s engagement begins waning and continues in a downward direction).

Workers check out or begin looking for a WAY OUT.


To change these thoughts in a positive direction, the modern leadership role has an essential motivational necessity – the need to be an “attractive” leader … focused on attracting people.

WAY MAKERS (leaders) need to proactively put together words, actions, policies, plans, and purposes that show people a WAY IN – developing connection and rapport.

That means making it plain and well-understood why the work is so important … why it makes such a real difference in helping people … and why they are so important to getting it done – why their individual efforts are mighty contributions … and why you appreciate each one of them personally. Show them you have a big heart for the worker! (Make sure you actually have a big heart for the work / worker.)

The WAY IN works when you believe it, live it, show it, never forget it … because it’s the best way forward and is a real difference maker when you look at results.


– Jerry Strom

For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit http://www.JerryStrom.com . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published. This article is based on leadership research by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find short insights on Twitter @JerryRStrom.

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