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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #108: Why Do My Peers Never Listen to Me or Follow My Lead?

October 15, 2020
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #108: Why Do My Peers Never Listen to Me or Follow My Lead?

Being an effective leader means being able to influence your peers, as well as your subordinates. However, influencing across in the organization can be a challenge due to the competitive nature of many peer relationships. Today, Chris and Perry talk about a structured approach to developing peer influence.

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Read the Transcript:

Perry Holley:    Welcome to The John Maxwell Executive Leadership podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others and your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach.

Chris Goede:     I’m Chris Goede, vice president of John Maxwell Company. Welcome and thank you for joining. As always, when you get started on this, we just want to remind you of the website you can visit to ask a question, leave a comment, download the guide that Perry has created for us to follow along in today’s session. And that is So if you’ll visit that, you’ll see the resources and a place to leave us a question or a comment that we’ll be able to address on a future podcast if that’ll help you out.

Well, today’s topic, and I love this question, because I think all of us have had this question at one point in time as we think about influencing and leading an organization. And so the title today is, “Why do my peers never listen to me or follow my lead?” Now, I immediately went personal on this question. I thought, “Man, I’ve asked myself that question over and over again about my children.” But I can’t figure that out either, so I’m so excited to go through the session with Perry today, because maybe I’m going to be able to influence my children. But, Perry, let’s talk a little bit. Let’s dive into this. Why do my peers never listen to me or follow my lead?

Perry Holley:    It is personal isn’t it?

Chris Goede:     Yeah. It is personal.

Perry Holley:    You may want to sit down.

Chris Goede:     Uh-oh, I’ll send you a check.

Perry Holley:    I think that, as you say, many of us have felt this, and it is, we think, peers. So I’m a first-line manager. There are other first line managers. Are we really collaborating and helping each other, or is there a spirit of competition, or I don’t really want to ask for their help or ask anything of them because it might make me look weak or different somehow. But what many of us, especially in the current situation, has found that the lot of the work we do is hard, and to go alone is not a great model.

And John said, “One is very hard to do anything significant.” Too small a number, but if I can figure out how to influence my peers in a positive way, it really can be a game changer on how we collaborate, on how we get things done, and how we deliver these remarkable results that we’re looking for.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And I love how you said, “Hey, if I’m another first-line manager, this goes up and down the organizational chart.” So if you’re hourly employee, it’s another hour… If you’re an hourly employee, it could be… First-line manager, it could be… It doesn’t matter, right-

Perry Holley:    .

Chris Goede:     … across the organization as a whole. And I love how-

Perry Holley:    Well, I say, “Did you ask your partner?” “No, I don’t want to ask him that.” “Well, why not?” “Well, there’s reasons behind it.”

Chris Goede:     Yeah, no, I love it. But we do have trouble leading it across at times. I know I have, and I know Perry has as well. And so one of the things we thought about was, “Hey, what are some of those things that maybe have caused us to have a little bit of trouble leading across with our influence?” And the first one that we thought about was maybe we jumped in and tried to gain influence way too quickly, right? And you’re like, “I smell a rat. What’s going on with this?”

Perry Holley:    “You’re manipulating me.”

Chris Goede:     “What’s going on over here.” And so just listen, it’s a process, okay? It’s not going to happen right away. So your influence will increase with with your peers. It’s a process. Don’t jump in too quickly. The other thing was, you got to make sure that you are doing it authentically so that your motives come across pure.

We are all territorial. We want to protect ours and our territory and we don’t want to lose our job, we don’t want somebody else to look better. We have this competing notion, Perry, and I talk a lot about sports on this podcast and the connection between sports and leadership. And we all want to win, we all want to be a little bit better than our peer, we want to look good. And so just make sure as you’re beginning to gain your influence, that your motives are pure behind what you’re doing and the value you’re trying to add so that they can begin to trust you.

And that’s, again, we talk about trust. That’s just huge in this. And remember, authenticity is a trust accelerator. So just make sure you’re not going too quick, make sure your motives are pure. And just, I love the fact that my team wants to compete and we all want to be better. Rising tide raises all boats, just make sure that you’re doing it with the right motive.

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Perry Holley:    And I’m going to point out if it’s not completely obvious already, is that we’re talking… We used the first-line manager, my peers at work, by the way, this is a life skill right here. Because when you think about in your neighborhood, those are peer families. When you think about in your home, your peer with your spouse or your significant others, you’re thinking about in your homeowners association or your church. So those are your peers. And so are you influencing? And I had to find what was, this was a marriage observation was, I wasn’t doing well because I had a need to win or to be right. And I looked at some other relationships and I’m always trying to exude my superiority by being right or winning. That’s not a scalable model that there’s going to be a failing influence model right there.

So what I wanted to present today was something we do in the 360 degree workshop, a 360 degree leader workshop. And that is what John has labeled the leadership loop. And , if I could be completely honest, when I first saw this, I pushed it away, thinking that, “Well, it’s a bit much, and it seems a bit structured for me.” But once again, as I beat with being promoted and going up through the organization, found myself in trouble, not been able to lead up, down or across. And this is really about leading across. And I found that a lot of competitive siloed types of environments, I thought, “How can we break the silo effect in my office?” Not even to mention in my neighborhood where we were all in our siloed homes, it became more difficult to influence a peer group. So I returned to the leadership loop and it really did work.

Chris Goede:     Well, isn’t it funny how these principles really do work? How many times have you been on a coaching call and you start talking about simple leadership principles, maybe The 5 Levels model, or you’ve been facilitating a session and they come up to you and they’re like, “Oh, if I just would’ve understood this so many years ago in my career, who knows?” And so these principles simple, sometimes a little structured at times, really, really do work. And this leadership loop, I think you got to be intentional about it. I’ve even had to pause in my leadership journey and look at each one of these and say, “How am I doing with this across the organization?”

Now, if you’re driving, your exercising and listening to us, whenever you get to a place, I want to really encourage you to go get the guide that Perry created for this one at Because in there, we actually have the diagram of the leadership loop. Then you can kind of reference back to our session today, but so Perry let’s take it. Let’s walk them through this loop.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. So let’s say the leadership loop is a seven step process for increasing your influence with a peer in your work or at home in the neighborhood. I’ll just give you the first three and they kind of lumped together. Because this is really how you look at people. And the first step is, and what you want to do is think about someone in your peer group. So let’s say I’m thinking about you because we’re peers. And so I’m thinking about that. I’m saying, “Step one, caring. Do I take an interest in this person?” So I’m looking at you, “Check. I got that one.”

Number two is learning. “Do I take the time to get to know this person?” So over time we’ve got to know each other. And so I feel like I’m at step two. And then step three is called appreciating. I so appreciate John putting this in here, because it says, “I have come to truly appreciate this person and respect this person for their unique skills and experiences.” And when you think about it, “Am I caring, have I interest in? Yes. Am I learning? Am I taking time to get to know you? Yes.” But am I appreciating you, step three, to say, “I truly appreciate and respect what you bring to what we do.”

Chris Goede:     Man. I love that. And those three things right there, and I love how you kind of separated out the first three of these seven steps that John talks about a loop. These are three actionable items for you to gain level two influence. Now I just brought in, again, The 5 Levels, we talk about that being the foundation, but those three things right there, we talk about building relationships and connecting with people in order for them to give you permission to lead them. Perry just gave you the three steps that you need to check the box. Now, what I want to make sure is that you have to take an interest in others. You can’t not have an interest in others, right? I love the kind of the play on words right there, right? You have to take an interest others in order to be able to influence them and make sure that you do it with the proper motive, as we kind of started out our session today.

Now, the next two steps of the seven step process are, the first one is contributing, okay? And I love where we’re going here. This is a little bit of a level three, right? The production side, you helping people produce, like contributing, “I add value to this person by contributing to their growth and development, or their projects, or their assignments, or their presentations.” Whatever it might be.

And then the fifth one is verbalizing. I verbalize affirmations of this person to help them believe in themselves. I think one of the things that is so great about it, if you’re authentic about this, is that if you verbalize to them affirmations, one of the things I love about is the fact that man, if they in the right way and authentically not fake, we’ve all been around those that affirm people in a fake way, and we’re like, “Oh, my gosh, will you pick up your feet?” Right? “It’s getting deep in here.” But man, if you do that in the right way, you will see your influence grow and you’ll see people flourish and what they’re doing when it comes to producing inside an organization.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. So these two steps, contributing and verbalizing, are where others become better because of you. These are very intentional actions. I can’t help but think a lot of bottlenecks on this. If you’re following this flow, that a lot of bottlenecks occur at this point in the leadership loop. But why would that be? Because like you said, it’s easy to take a general interest in others, so I can care and learn and appreciate. But when it comes time to start having to actually take action of contributing to your success and verbalizing to you to really affirm you, it’s actual work. And I have to be intentional to do that. Another thing that really jumps out at me here, is on the first three. I can care and appreciate, but… I mean to learn, but then to appreciate, it’s kind of verbalizing that. Again in here, he called it verbalizing because how important is that to know that I’m adding value, but I’m going to affirm you for what you’re doing.

That’s so putting the focus on others, not on me. What we generally want is, “Can you just affirm me?” And we move on, but no, I’m going to affirm you. We’re talking about in the realm of building influence with a peer who doesn’t have to do any… They don’t have to do anything. You want them to want to collaborate with you. If I start verbalizing my affirmation of you, doesn’t that make you want to hang out, be closer, do that kind of thing?

Chris Goede:     Yeah.

Perry Holley:    So, yeah.Chris Goede:     Yeah. And what is Truett Cathy known for saying about encouragement, right? If someone’s breathing, they need to be encouraged, right? And now again, Perry and I are telling you, do it in the right way, where it doesn’t feel like people are like, “Oh, here goes Chris, again, getting over the top on this kind of affirmation.” But there’s no doubt about it that that’s where real influence happens and we’re investing in others and we’re showing them the value of what they’re contributing to the organization. And so do not hesitate to kind of verbalize that in an authentic way.

Now, the last two of this seven step process of this leadership loop is number six is, “Leading by practicing the first five steps.” We’ve earned the opportunity to influence a person. And I love how this kind of ties in to our whole model of The 5 Levels, right? It’s earned and you can lead them because you’ve been given the right and you’ve earned the right to do that. And then the final one, as we kind of wrap up this loop right here, is succeeding by practicing all of these steps, “I influence and lead this person in a way that allows us and the team to win together.” And I absolutely love the fact that he’s given us this visual and I love the fact you said, and bottleneck, where is it with an individual, am I getting bottleneck?

Perry Holley:    That’s how we teach it in the room is if you actually sit down and think about this, pick a person and go through it. Where am I with that person? You can build a scorecard that says with the five people that are around me, my peers here, or my five neighbors in my neighborhood, or my five friends at church, or in the homeowner’s association, where am I with each person? And it gives you a bit of an action plan to say, “Well, how do I get to the next… How do I continue to develop my influence?” If I’m stuck, I’m appreciating, but I’m not really adding value to them, to add that next step. Then that’s right, go back to start.

In this last two, you mentioned leading and succeeding is where you have the greatest influence, of course. And you said by practicing all the steps, and I love the word, is earned. You earn the opportunity to influence, they’re going to give you permission to influence them. And I think it’s what most of us miss. You just don’t make someone be influenced by you. You have to earn their permission to influence them. And so we, like you said at the top, we kind of rushed, kind of make it happen fast without having done any of the steps.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. It’s funny how the system will work and we’ve seen it work, and we’ve seen it work in leaders at all levels. Again, we talked about being able to… No matter if you’re a first-line manager, an hourly employee, or a middle manager, it doesn’t matter, right? This is actually going to work. Now, one of the things that we often recommend is that when you think about those that you have influence with and you evaluate it, is that you do this on an individual basis. Remember, influence is with the individual. And so as we often talk about, you’re on different levels with different people all the time, in The 5 Levels Of Leadership, it’s the same thing here. Perry brought up, again, the word bottleneck, right? I think you have to look at this loop and you have to be true to yourself when you’re answering questions about each individual, or each peer, or each team member that you are trying to gain influence with. Because it’s going to be different for each and every individual. So anyways, I’m going to wrap up in just a minute. I’ll throw it back to you for one last comment-

Perry Holley:    Got to fit you out with that I did .

Chris Goede:     Yeah, no, it’s all good, it’s all good is. But listen, most likely if you’re leading well and you’ve had some time and some tenure and you’ve gone about it the right way, most likely steps five and six are where you contribute and where you verbalize may be where those bottleneck happens. But I don’t want to assume that. And I don’t want you to assume that going in because you have to evaluate it on an individual basis.

Perry Holley:    Why I took that gasping breath was when you were saying it’s on an individual level, but I thought, “Oh yeah, but wait, if you’re doing this around the peer group with you, they’re going to notice that, ‘Wow, that Chris, he’s always caring and he’s learning about us and he’s appreciating us, and he’s contributing to my life, he’s helping me better with my team, he’s verbalizing and affirming to me and in front of others. And that’s, I think we’re going together, we’re winning…'” People notice this kind of stuff. And all of a sudden you have a culture of peer collaboration that it can’t help but take your performance, your team, your business, to the next level.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. I love that. Well, listen, as I wrap up, just a quick close for you today, don’t try to rush influence, and remember it happens on an individual basis and make sure that you have pure motives behind what you’re doing. If you don’t, they’re going to smell it from a mile away. And because you know it, you’ve been there with other leaders. And so just make sure that you’re doing that.

My final action step for you is make sure you go and print out that guide and really take a look at that leadership loop and look at each one of the seven and ask yourself that question with your teams, with your peers you’re influenced with, “Where am I stuck and why?” And then I’m going to challenge you one last thing. Then maybe even have a meeting with that individual and verbalize it to them. Now don’t sit down and say, “All right, let me show you this seven step…” No, no. Just say, “Man, I feel like there’s a disconnect here. Can we talk a little bit about that? Give me some of your lens, your perspective on maybe why we’re kind of in this…” I don’t want to call it stuck, you don’t want to say stuck to them, but, “We’re kind of in this phase of our peer-to-peer relationship or leadership.”

Perry Holley:    Fantastic. Well, that guide can be found, the learner guide can be found at You can also leave us a comment, or a question, or tell us a topic you’d like to hear us talk about. We’re always so grateful that you would join us here. That’s all today from The John Maxwell Executive Leadership podcast.

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