Are You Leading the Walking Dead?


There is a popular TV show today called “The Walking Dead.”  I had a friend of mine refer to his employees that way.  He told me “All they do is walk around, go through the motions.”  I asked him what did he think caused that.  He said “they aren’t motivated.”  Now I smiled because I got to play “ask why.”  “Why aren’t they motivated?” I asked.  “Well”, he said, “I guess they just see this as just a job.”  Smile… ”Why do they see this as just a job?”  “They don’t seem to care as long as they get paid.  They work and they do what they are supposed to do, but they have no enthusiasm.” He replied.  “Why don’t they care, why don’t they have enthusiasm? “ I asked.  With a noticeably frustrating look he paused for a moment and responded, “They don’t know what they should be enthusiastic about.”   Now he knew it was coming, so before I could ask WHY again, he quickly added, “I guess I haven’t told them why they need to be enthusiastic.”  But I had him, I got the last “why” in.  “Why is that”? I asked.

Leaders have the job of influencing their workforce, their teams, to do great things.  When the team isn’t functioning as desired the Leader must first look inwardly.  In other words the Leader must do, as I did above; start asking why.  Most often the issue is the leader’s issue.  In other words, the leader didn’t do something or didn’t do it well enough to create the desired outcome.

So what should you as a leader do if your workforce is not motivated?  Going forward from asking yourself all the whys, you then, if the problem is you, do the following:

Get the Team Excited:  You need to create passion, enthusiasm and excitement in your team.  No, not the cart wheeling jumping up and down kind, but the drive and determination that recognizes that your team can accomplish anything.  The passion and drive that gets you out of tough spots and also prevents you from getting into them.

Have a Life.  Work is hard:  If it wasn’t, we’d call it something else. When we work hard we get tired, we need rest and we need to recuperate.  To some, rest is shooting rapids in a kayak and to others it is reclining with a good book.  Whatever you need to do to recharge your batteries, rest your mind and your body, you need to do.  Wearing yourself out because all you do is work is not healthy for you, your team or your business.

Your People are the most important: Unless you are superman you aren’t getting it done by yourself.  You need a team and a team is people.  Ensuring that your people are well taken care of, are afforded the tools, training and time to accomplish the goals; ensuring that they too have the recuperative time to regenerate, ensures that your team is always ready, willing and able to take on the next challenge.

Honesty is the Best Policy:  There are tons of examples of leaders who lack integrity.  The master wordsmiths who can twist rationalizations out of lies, who can talk their way out of problematic issues by twisting words.  Leaders like that don’t remain leaders for long and rapidly loose the support and commitment of their teams.  Be honest, be clear, don’t mislead, misrepresent, embellish or twist words with your team. 

Communicate Clearly:   Your role as a leader includes a duty to ensure your team understands the mission, objective, protocols, rules of the game; everything.  You can’t be ambiguous or abstract in speaking with them.  Your words must have clarity and your actions and deeds must be aligned with your words.  Don’t be confusing or misleading, communicate effectively.

Shut up and Listen:  Communication happens when both sides are clear AND when they listen.  As the leader it isn’t all about your message, you have to really understand the team’s message.  This is more than hearing them, it is paying attention and understanding what they are saying.

Facilitate Solutions: Years ago it was made a part of my personal culture.  “If you deliver a problem to the boss also deliver a proposed solution to the problem.”  This created, in me, an ability to solve problems instead of simply passing them on.  A common way of doing this is to: isolate the situation; identify the problem; identify root causes; approach the problem with action to remove or eliminate it.

You Don’t Lead Because You Have a Leaders Title:  Leadership isn’t always about the position or title that you hold.  It is about the traits and behaviors your exhibit.  If you teach your team, demonstrate to your team, share your knowledge and experience with the team, your team will grow.  As it grows it becomes stronger, more capable and competent.


 Leading isn’t something you do simply because you are in charge, own the company or are related to someone who owns the company.  Leading takes effort.  Leading takes skills and most importantly Leading takes passion.