Do you get others to follow you? – A good leader gets everyone on board

Do you bring yourself and get others on board?

Are you running on the platform and wondering where you are going? Do you try to get on but get trampled by another passenger? Or are you trying to get on with your group, but everyone is getting on in different carriages? Or do you get on and off without any problems?

Let me start this post by using the train and the platform as a metaphor for what I want to convey. In Communicology* we talk about pacing and leading which can also turn into mis pacing and mis leading.

If you have an imbalance in your pacing and leading, there can be disorder on the train platform. Perhaps things get so bad that you don’t get on the train together or don’t get on at all. If you want to get your staff or students on the train to the destination (no matter how big or small), you need to be clear in your communication, you need to be sensitive to their needs and wishes about the destination and the journey there, as well as the states (emotions) they end up in when planning their departure and time on the train. What will the journey look like? What stops should be made along the way to ensure that you are heading to the right destination.

Understanding this can be useful for you as a leader. Know that not everyone wants information in the same way, and it is and will be your task as a leader and guide to the vision/goal (destination) to make sure you get everyone on board by being adaptable in your approach. You should be able to “guide” your staff/students/family members with a confident hand to also contribute to their independence later in the journey.

Balance in your pacing and leading as a leader (whether in a company, as a teacher, etc.) is essential if you are to contribute to a prosperous and sustainable business environment. Do not assume that your reference points are the only ones that apply. Without your staff/students/family the goal will not be reached. Avoid steering with the idea that your truth is everyone’s truth about what the path to the goal should look like. Dare to invite and be curious.

Pacing employees – achieving goals and visions (getting them on board)

As a leader, you need to find out what your employees need in order to believe in and want to implement the vision set out by management. You may think you have a good lead in the company, but if your employees don’t agree, it will result in a mislead in the end. So you need to meet them where they are and find out what their needs, wants and concerns are. If you or management just run your race in the belief that it will lead to the goal, there is a high risk of unnecessary problems along the way. And it may not be achieved. When something isn’t working, don’t assume it’s the wrong staff, instead find out if they feel they have been given the right conditions to help drive the vision you have presented.

Pacing as a parent or educator

The above also applies if you are a parent or educator. Meet children, young and old, where they are. Listen in and see what their needs are, what conditions they are in and may end up in. How they want it to be and how you can get there together. Listen and find out how they see things, instead of quickly judging their behavior. You don’t know anything about their intentions or if they have difficulties in understanding or adapting to set frameworks (contexts), when we know, it is easier to respond with the right tools and without own chosen truths about what we have seen and heard.

Pacing yourself

Just as you need to be flexible when meeting others, responding to needs and being interested in what they have to say. This is also the case when you’re trying to find yourself. Do you listen to the inside sometimes? So, you find out if you are making choices and acting on what you really want. Or do you jump on other people’s trains and run aimlessly between platforms? One way to get good at reading others is to start with yourself.

Others do as we do and not as we say

Part of the pacing, if we look at your leadership role in the company, is to be a full leader. Make and be the change you want from your employees. Meet them where they are in terms of language and questions they have to understand and move forward. Involve them and make them part of the development process, encourage and uplift your employees. In my opinion, good leadership is characterized by a number of factors, one of which is how good you are at meeting your employees and the ability to understand the difference between leading change and managing change. In a few days, I will write about neuro-leadership and what studies and I think makes a good leader.

Perhaps I need not add that the above thesis applies in our parenting or when working with children, young people – or in any situation where we want people to follow us.

Here are some examples of pacing and mis-pacing

The spider in the web

Sara is the ‘spider in the web’ at her workplace and is responsible for this year’s Christmas party. She is happy with the trust and has asked three similar questions to each department in the company to find out what they want for the party. She wants everyone to have a chance to indirectly contribute to a party that will resonate with the whole company. She makes a list and sets up a meeting with her manager so they can look at the three things they need to focus on together.

Sara presents the list to the manager and only has time to present her proposal by picking out three things from the list to focus on, when the manager interrupts Sara saying that she thinks it is important that Sara already takes into account what other employees want instead of just writing down “fun” suggestions on a list.

Perhaps a very simple and “banal” example above. But this is common in many workplaces. Whether on topics such as the ‘Christmas party’ or on bigger challenges such as operational issues. Sara has done a good job of pacing her colleagues by finding out what they want from the Christmas party. The manager, on the other hand, mispaces Sara in the meeting, as she does not find out where the list Sara made comes from. The risk in such situations is that mis-pacing leads to frustration, irritation, fear and the feeling of being ignored and/or not being listened to.


Last year I started outdoor training in the area where we used to live. I offered both group and PT training in an outdoor environment. I chose to promote the training with an emphasis on “Training on your terms”. In my experience, many people don’t like stepping into a gym, it feels scary, demanding, unsafe and an environment “that doesn’t suit me”. The gym becomes a barrier to exercise. Similarly, many people feel that it should just be “meat” – that it is usually all or nothing.

Instead, I want to be able to deliver training where an untrained person can be on the same session as a well-trained person, and both can find it fun and challenging on their own terms. This will make training more sustainable and benefit more people.

If you work as a PT (or can translate this into other professional roles in terms of meeting clients) – it is of course of great importance to use your knowledge and skills to see what your client needs, and transfer that knowledge and understanding.

More importantly (if you want to retain the customer and make them like the pass with you), you need to listen to your customer. Who is in front of you and what do they say they want from the sessions with you? Also pay attention to whether an arrangement you have planned for the day’s meeting is really what the customer needs. On several occasions, I’ve torn up the planned schedule and opted instead for calmer exercise, relaxation or other elements that were more important.

The opposite of the above are the “Boot camps” where the invitation already promises punishment if you are late, don’t do what the instructor says or listen to this, laugh during the session. Then there will be legal punishment. (This is from a real invitation to an outdoor training session outside Stockholm). It might attract some people who don’t care or think it’s a funny thing.

I guess a lot of people opt out, because it’s scary, because they’re not in top shape and might not be able to do it, or because they can’t do everything but a lot because of a small injury. Who wants to contribute to the legal punishment of someone you don’t know? And how confident do you feel about what lies ahead? Talk about training on other people’s terms.


Coaching – or supporting, chatting, advising, counseling, etc. – is what many of us do as parents, employees, leaders, friends and fellow human beings. In doing so, we can think about being sensitive and instead of transmitting our truth about what we think is the best solution, we can ask the person(s) opposite us what their ideas are and find a good way forward together. If we get good at ‘tuning in’ to ourselves and others, we create more beautiful states of energy, joy and creativity.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”


Dress code for the meeting

Klas has applied for a new job at a company and receives an unexpected phone call during his vacation. They agree to an interview the following day and he is excited about the meeting. Klas arrives happily at the meeting and greets the suit-clad manager he spoke to on the phone, himself wearing summer shorts and a slightly unbuttoned shirt. Klas does not get the job because of the dress code chosen for the interview. (then again, I think competence should take precedence over dress code for the interview, so perhaps it can be indirectly said that it is a mis-pacing from both sides).

“Pleasing – Bleeding

If you’re pacing (pronounced peeps) someone or some people too much, you may end up pleasing – trying to meet the needs of others so much that you run over yourself. Which also becomes a form of “bleeding” for both parties. For yourself for stepping over your own boundaries, and because having that imbalance rarely benefits the other party, group dynamics or development. In a previous post I wrote about Me and You sorting, you can read it to find out how you are doing in your balance of setting boundaries for yourself and towards others.

Pacing with language and tempo

If, as a salesperson, you are approaching a new potential customer or if you have a job where you meet different professional categories (fitters, teachers, economists, marketers, etc.), you will be more successful in meeting them and getting your point across if you choose to use vocabulary that is familiar to the particular professional group you are dealing with. In individual meetings, you can listen to the language and pace of the person you are talking to and follow it. The chances of getting full attention and being listened to, if what you are presenting is interesting enough for the listener(s), are greater.

Being seen and listened to

For me, pacing and leading is ultimately about being present and seeing and listening to people. We live in a society where we see less of each other and more of what our screens tell us. It can be difficult to make yourself heard in the noise that is going on out there. So be present in the moment and watch and listen to people. And not just because you want to get something out of it.



– Reflect on how you interact with your colleagues and family – do you “pepper” them well or is there room for improvement?

– Think about a situation where you were treated well, what was good? Also think about the opposite, what would have needed to be corrected for you to like the treatment?

– Think about whether there is any difference between your pacing of yourself and the one you use in meetings with others.




* Communicology is an interdisciplinary meta-discipline. It is an area of expertise in change and development processes.

Definitions of Communicology
– The study of what is common in change and development processes.

– Studies of the structure and dynamics of communication and change when all experience and behavior is chosen, defined, described and understood as communication.

Want to know more? Contact me at [email protected] or visit any of these pages to find out more and to find training courses. Scandinavian Institute of Communicology or Communicology Center Hammarbysjöstad

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