Leadership Must Practice Peopleship

I believe Admiral McRaven was spot on when he wrote something to the effect that leading well is simple, but it is still not easy.

The reason leadership is simple but not easy is because leadership involves the human dynamic. Leadership is about people.

The principles of good leadership are simple enough for most people to understand. But human relationships can be messy, not all the time, but enough of the time to ensure that leading is not an easy thing to do.

This is where the term “peopleship” comes in. Afterall, leadership is a people focused endeavor. One does not lead “things” or inanimate objects. Leaders lead people.

As I began to write this, I did a web-search for the word “peopleship”. The word peopleship came to me as I was thinking about the concept of leadership really being people centric. I was surprised that when I typed “peopleship” into my search engine many references to the word peopleship came up. I guess I need to get out more.

From what I could tell from a quick look at the links that came up, the term peopleship has been around since at least 2012 and the term has been used in a variety of ways.

I describe peopleship as the ability to relate well with people across a diverse stakeholder group to influence people to accomplish the mission and improve the organization. Good leaders must be able to do that.  Peopleship is all about leading as a character-based servant leader. Peopleship is about displaying empathy and making your followers feel that they are unique and valued.

If people are in fact the most important element of an organization, a leader should take care of them. Taking care of people does not mean making life easy for them or being their best friend. It means communicating well to those you lead by being transparent, being clear on priorities and expectations, and providing guidance. It means providing your followers with the resources they need and removing obstacles that may be in their path so they can do their job better. It also means providing those you lead with feedback, asking them what their goals and dreams are, and providing them with the required training they need.

Caring for your followers also means creating a great culture. The hallmarks of a great organizational culture include a meaningful purpose, high values, connectiveness, belonging, and psychological safety. These cultural qualities are essential to recruit good people and retain them while being able to fulfill the organizational mission. A feeling of safety is essential. When people within an organization feel safe, they will focus on the job at hand rather than watching their back. 

Toxic leaders may be able to have some short-term success. However, to have long term success and to be a champion you must be a leader who practices peopleship. Leaders cannot accomplish the mission and improve the organization over the long term if they cannot relate well to people, or in other words engage in peopleship.

About John Gronski

Major General John L. Gronski (U.S. Army Retired) is the founder and CEO of Leader Grove LLC, a leadership consulting firm. John is the author of two books, “Iron-Sharpened Leadership” and “The Ride of Our Lives” and he is an international and Fortune 500 speaker. Learn more about John at https://johngronski.com/

Continue To Learn

John created a great online leadership development program. You can take online leadership development courses including Cultivating Trust, Introduction to Emotional Intelligence, and Conflict Management. Introduction to Change Leadership will be available soon and more courses will follow. Once you complete a course, take a short quiz, attain an 80% score, and download a certificate of completion. Find out more and enroll at Store.LeaderGrove.com

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