Be a Dictator at Your Peril

by Shaun R Smith on June 8, 2010

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No one likes to be told what to do.

Does this sound familiar?  You come up with a great plan.  It is going to enable you to gain market share, increase profitability, and save money.  All you need now is for your team to do their assigned part of the plan — simple right?  And then comes the sabotage, and the pushback, and the malicious compliance.  And not only do fall short of your plan, you perform worse than you did year-over-year.  What happened?

If your team isn’t on board for your company’s initiatives, maybe it’s because you didn’t involve them in the process.

Here’s the secret to buy in:


If you want your team to take ownership of your company’s initiatives and results, get them involved in the process early and intimately.  The more the plan is genuinely theirs, the more naturally engaged they will be in making sure it is a success.

Many business owners inadvertantly create a lose-lose scenario with their business team.  They operate under the assumption that their employees are just there for the money and want to do as little as possible.  They fear entrusting them with too much responsibility or asking them to perform beyond their job descriptions for fear that they will demand more compensation or be resentful or sabotage the process, or some combination thereof.

Ironically, most employees actually want to be more engaged.  They want to make a contribution that matters.  They want to tap into their creativity and intellect. They want to be heard – and make a difference.  They want to do work that is satisfying on as many levels as possible.

So why aren’t you utilizing all the talents, creativity, energy, and mental power of your team right now?  Usually, there are a few reasons.


In order for you to shift from the above lose-lose scenario to a win-win situation where the employer gets the win of getting a great client result and a satisfied, happier team and the employee gets to do more rewarding work and really feel that they’re making a difference, trust must exist on both sides.  You must trust your team to step up to the plate, and they must trust you step back and allow them to contribute.


When you think the same things you’ve always thought, and do the same things you’ve always done, you’re going to get the same results you’ve always gotten.  You’re going to need to push out of your comfort zone to actually make this change.  Will there be stumbles and disappointments at first?  Most likely.  But the return is well worth the investment.  In fact, without making this shift, your company will be stuck at whatever level you can grow it by yourself.

You Never Thought of It

Maybe it never even occurred to you to engage your employees on this level.  Or maybe you thought that your employees wouldn’t want to or wouldn’t be able to perform at this level.  Now that you’ve read this article, that excuse is no longer viable.

Start Today

What initiatives do you currently have underway?  How could you get your team involves in the thoughts, creative, and developmental process there?  What projects or time periods are you currently planning for?  Bring your team into these conversations immediately, and watch them perform at a level you didn’t know was possible.  And watch your life become a lot less stressful and frustrating.

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