Specific Strategies for Applying ‘The Rule of Thirds’
In a previous blog, we outlined LEADon®’s principle called The Rule of Thirds which details the three cohorts all leaders interact with in their personal and professional lives. This means that everyone who leads others will always have individuals who fall into one of these three categories:
- Fans – people who strongly support you and your vision, mission, goals, etc.
- Followers – people who “go along to get along” while fulfilling their roles and responsivities.
- Foes – people who strongly disagree with your leadership, are disgruntled, or are insubordinate.
Some leaders are surprised to discover they have approximately 67% of individuals (Fans and Followers) in their various spheres of influence who support their efforts, albeit in varying degrees. Indeed, many leaders the LEADon® team has worked with often feel like this percentage seems much smaller, particularly when they are trying to get buy-in for initiatives or are striving to meet operational goals. There have also been a number of leaders who are equally astonished to discover that members of the Foes cohort could be as high as 1/3 of the individuals they interact with on a daily basis.
The great news for you is no matter who you are leading, there are specific strategies you can implement to keep the positive momentum of Fans going, to encourage Followers to become more engaged, and to intervene before any Foes become problematic.
Let’s begin with the strongest supporters in your personal and professional life. Although Fans typically appreciate the way you lead, buy in to most initiatives, and believe in the vision and mission you have set for them to execute, they also require regular and consistent support and appreciation. Fans of all kinds stay enthusiastic when they are valued, and that’s why LEADon® recommends creating a ‘Culture of Appreciation’ in your personal and professional families. In particular, your Corporate Family® doesn’t always have built-in celebratory events (birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, holidays etc.), so being intentional about honoring individuals and their teams must be a top priority for exceptional leaders. As we explain in Corporate Family Matters: Creating and Developing Organizational Dynasties, “one of the most significant ways you will impact your colleagues and co-workers is through small, seemingly simple acts” (2010, pp.109-110). In Chapter 10 of Corporate Family Matters, we offer specific ideas on how you can celebrate your Corporate Family®. You can also review our online course LEADing with a Culture of Appreciation® for practical ways to keep your fanbase motivated.
Just as in the social media world, your Followers tend to like your mindset and methodology. And while they fall short of being your most enthusiastic supporters, they typically won’t fight against you, especially once you’ve launched a program or set new policy. The Culture of Appreciation you are creating should celebrate members of this group as well as your Fans, especially when individuals or their teams achieve success and deserve to be recognized for those accomplishments. In addition, Followers often require specific inspiration from their leaders. We discuss the importance of such inspiration in The LEADing Edge: 9 Strategies for Improving Internal and Intentional Leadership: “every leader has to find ways to help his or her team members passionately desire to achieve the teams’ objectives through their personal roles and responsibilities” (2019, pp.46-47). One way to inspire your Followers is through the mentoring process where those in leadership take less-experienced team members under their wings and equip them with the tools needed to not only successfully fulfil their roles but also acquire exceptional leadership skills. For assistance with this process, we recommend reviewing two LEADon® online courses: LEADing by Coaching and Mentoring® and LEADing by Reading, Relating, and Feeding Your Corporate Family®.
The last group in The Rule of Thirds is typically the most challenging, in part because some leaders fail to recognize the existence or enmity of those individuals in the Foes cohort. Let’s discuss the potential positives of directly addressing this disgruntled or disengaged group. First, by figuring out why Foes are dissatisfied, you may be able to resolve the situation and even move some Foes to Followers simply by addressing areas of concern. Second, by directly interacting with people who are resistant to your plans, procedures, or policies, you can identify those who require mentoring—or those who need to be offered free agency in order to eliminate the drag in your Corporate Family® and allow them to find a better fit in another organization. This free agency group includes anyone who is insubordinate or refuses to improve. Take time to watch our online courses LEADers Walk the Talk® and LEADing by Breaking Through Resistance & Status Quo® so you can discover additional strategies to improve your personal and professional leadership.
It’s important to note that people in all your spheres of influence will fall into one of the three cohorts without any effort on your part. Whether they stay in those camps, or as often happens due to human nature, switch cohorts unexpectedly, is within your influence. So, appreciate your Fans and they’ll probably stay just that! Inspire and mentor your Followers, helping them move from a “go along” to a “let’s go!” mentality. And face any Foes with thoughtful and precise definitiveness, striving for alignment and attunement. Finally, be sure to celebrate the successes you have made in creating more unity in your personal and professional families. If you need any assistance in this process, the team at LEADon® is available to answer questions and provide recommendations for a path forward. Contact us at 858.592.0700 or www.LEADonUniversity.com.