Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can speak about leadership and the role ‘structure’ plays at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.


Full Video Transcript:

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about structure, and here’s the top-line statement: Leaders hate structure but followers love it.

Now, take a look at your own life. There are areas in your life where you’re a leader, and there are other areas in your life where you’re a follower. So don’t break it down naively to say you’re either a leader or a follower. We’re all both in different areas of our lives. Maybe in your family, if you’re a parent, then you’re one of the leaders, to your children. Maybe in church you’re a follower to the pastor or the minister. In work, the people who report up to you, well, you’re the leader, they’re the follower, and meanwhile, the person who you report to, that other person’s the leader and you’re the follower. Or maybe there are some people who you listen to or books that you read where the author or the expert or whoever it is you’re getting information from, that person is the leader, and in that relationship you’re the follower. So we’re all both of these.

But here’s the situation: Leaders hate structure, followers love it. So let’s just look at a few examples. Are you holding events? Are you an event organizer? If you are, provide structure in the form of a very detailed agenda. It’s a pain in the neck for you. You want to have flexibility. You don’t want to have to worry about stuff. But the people who are coming to the event, they like this because it buys the risk out. They know exactly what they’re going to get because this is a detailed agenda. So they can visualize it. The more detailed the agenda, the more information you can provide, the better.

Meetup.com, which is a website that specializes event in organizing offline events, they did a study once, and event descriptions that were more detailed and longer had twice the attendance of event descriptions that were shorter. People like knowing. Give them as much as information as you can.

Are you building a group? Are you a group leader? Add rules. Add structure. An excellent example from my perspective is Toastmasters, which is an organization that helps people become better at public speaking. Well, if you’ve joined Toastmasters you’ll know this already, but if you join one day you’ll find out that they have these manuals with unbelievably detailed instructions of what you can do in the process that you’re a part of and how to get certain designations and move up the ropes, enormous amounts of structure which helps the members understand what they can do. The members love it, and they get more Toastmasters clubs because they’ve added so much structure.

Are you a teacher? Add more structure for your students, step-by-step instructions – step one, step two, step three. Your students will love that. Similarly, if you’re explaining something, even just to a group of friends, chunk it down so you can organize it in a very simple 1-2-3, A-B-C kind of structure. It’ll help the people listening to you understand what it is you’re trying to get across.

Similarly, if you look during a person’s lifespan, kids, their behavior is better when they have structure. It starts from the youngest ages, literally as a toddler, as a baby. If the baby is taking a nap at the same time every day, going to sleep at the same time every day, they have a structure, they have a routine. They behave better. They’re more comfortable. They’re more relaxed. They relax more. They’re not as anxious as kids that have a different thing they never know what to expect. Giving your baby structure is good for the baby, and your children throughout when they’re growing up until they become adults.

Then, let’s look at the other side, when you’re older, retired. My mother is quite old, and quite sick, frankly. And these older people—she lives in a senior facility—and she needs structure. She’s got medication regimens that she’s and there are all sorts of stuff. She doesn’t sleep well. She’s not really that aware of her surroundings. So she gets anxiety if her environment is changing.

Even when I go to visit my mom, just the fact that I’m visiting makes it unusual for her, and she gets higher anxiety as a result. So me visiting, me just calling my mom puts her in a state of anxiety because it’s out of her routine. She lives in Vancouver, I live in San Francisco, so I don’t get to see her that much. When I go visit, the first couple of days are very difficult for her because her routine is jostled around and she has to try to calibrate and understand too much new information.

So, think about it in life. Kids and older people, that’s when they’re in a following mode. The time in your life when you’re a leader is in that middle segment, when you’re between whatever, between age 20 and age 65or whatever age you want to put to it, that middle stage in your life when you’re assuming a more leadership role in your life. So it’s in that middle stage where you don’t want anyone telling you what to do, you want to be able to do it yourself, you want flexibility, you want to be able to make your own choices, so you don’t like structure there being imposed onto you. Meanwhile, when you’re really young and when you’re really old, now you’re in a following mode, essentially, and you love structure and you function better with structure.

So just think about your life and in what capacities you’re a leader and in what capacities you’re a follower, and whenever you’re in a leadership role, try to provide more structure for your followers. They will thrive as a result. Even if you hate the structure, they will love it, and they will respond to you and your content and your direction and your leadership better if you provide that structure for them.

Thanks for watching this video. My name is Patrick, reminding you once again to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.