Do You Lead Like Barney?

One of my favorite television shows way back when was The Andy Griffith Show. One of the reasons it was my favorite was because of that funny little character that made me laugh, Barney Fife.

Barney was Andy’s deputy. While they both had authority, their leadership styles were very different. Andy didn’t carry a gun yet his influence was very robust and powerful. People wanted to follow Andy. He always approached challenges with a level head and didn’t take himself
too seriously.

Barney, on the other hand, felt like he “needed” to carry a gun so that he would have more authority. His badge and gun made him feel powerful (even though he had to carry his one bullet in his shirt pocket). Ha ha!

Sometimes as leaders we feel we must rely on our own version of Barney’s gun and badge to feel like a leader or make others respect and follow us, such as:

  • Our title
  • Our office
  • Our authority
  • Our questions
  • Our outbursts
  • Our decisions

Like Barney’s badge and gun, these things might reinforce our power and position, but they don’t increase our influence. Are you relying on a false sense of influence to lead your people? Instead of focusing on what you have or can do to make people follow you, think about how you can encourage them to want to follow you – by giving and earning trust, building the relationship, encouraging their growth, and leading the way we’d like to be led.

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