2 Ways To Get People To Take Action

Are you in a position of leadership and do you have to get people to take action? How easy do you find it?

Do you have to repeatedly ask your subordinates to fulfil their duty? Or is once all it takes? I’ve recently seen first hand that there are two very different ways to get people to take action.

In both the methods I’m about to describe, there are many flavours in each type, but I’m just going to briefly highlight the two differing methods.

Method i) Asking/telling someone or using some form of coercion.

Method ii) Getting people inspired to take action, i.e. pushing the right button that puts them in touch with their own power to act.

1. Asking or Telling

In my opinion, a terrible way of getting people to take action is to tell them. Nobody likes to be told what to do. It makes people feel resentful and takes away any of the joy from the doing. Asking is not much better however, there are times when it is necessary to ask.

The worst way is any form or coercion. A quick example is ‘do this or you lose your job’. It brings out the worst in others, however, there is a minor exception to the rule. The only time I see this as a good thing is in the format of military training or even high level sports training.

It’s often a case of complete what you’ve been assigned or you face a punishment; a punishment used at motivation. Only in this context can be quite effective but I don’t think it’s everyone’s cup of tea.

Ultimately though, the crux is that this method is primarily based upon fear. It’s a tool that uses an emotion within us that isn’t conducive to fruitful results and long term, will yield poor results.


Inspiring people to take action is a totally different kettle of fish. When you reach into a person, find the right button to push, *insert innuendo here* 😛 or you pull the right lever to get leverage, it can be extremely powerful.

You only have to briefly look at what’s going on in the middle east to see the kind of ripple inspiration can have and the momentum it has too.

Just think, you don’t have to ever ask that person to do anything. Both you and they know what needs to be done, but you communicate with them in a way which reaches the part that really speaks to them.

The real power comes from the ‘why‘. When you give people a purpose and a cause. It has a driving effect, in the same way as fear, but will yield a totally different set of results.

There is a third option which is a combination of the military training I described and inspiring people. It’s like being the leader of a nation. Moving your people to act. Through this method you have respect and discipline and people acting our or being inspired rather than obligation and fear.

If you can find the right balance between the two it can be a truly powerful force and you will almost be able to get people to do anything.

People don’t respect, or lose respect for those who do not effectively communicate with them to get them to take action.

I would so much rather have people respect me for bringing out the best in them rather than getting them to do my bidding through a culture of fear.

23 Responses

  1. Swati says:

    I can’t stop grinning! This is EXACTLY why I’ve been in a bad mood.

    I’ve been banging my head againt a metaphorical wall and entangled myself in other peoples negativity. Just today has been a journey in itself of realisation. I HAVE to take a step back to see the whole picture and inspire as you said rather than dictate but with authority. It’s especially difficult when the people in question are those who you know personally and as friends. Creating and establishing boundaries can be limiting but blurring the lines can be potentially damaging.

    I guess that’s where option 3 comes in!

    I think I owe you quite a few of those hot chocolates you love so much

    • Amit Sodha says:

      It’s interesting the part you mentioned about friends. I’ll give you the example of Neil who coaches me at badminton. One of my best friends, but at training he won’t take any shit from me, if I don’t do as I’m told he makes me do push-ups. I find that inspiring with authority. I’m not saying make your colleagues do push-ups 😛 but true authority will gain a natural respect!

      • Swati says:

        In the few days since I posted that, I’ve realised a great deal. Leadership has been thrust on me and I was told by the ‘thruster’ (stop it!) that I do have leadership qualities naturally and they trust my ability in that but I’m just lacking in experience. It would be wonderful to get people to ‘take action’ just through inspiration. When the doors aren’t open on the other end to be inspired you have to a) be and lead by example and b) say it out loud. Diret communication through action and words can in itself inspiring. (or at least that’s what I’m banking on. Seems to be working so far!)

        i love this post but would be even better in more depth x

        • Amit Sodha says:

          I’ll definitely cover this one again in more depth in the future…maybe just a simple one on how to inspire people! (I’ll do it as soon as I’ve worked it out!) 😆

  2. Dandy says:

    Hi Amit,
    This is a great post. It’s true there is nothing like inspiration. The people who command respect are the ones we remember most vividly. It is a unique & admirable quality. Thanks for the great tips on how to become an inspiration. Take care Amit!

  3. Stuart says:

    Amit, great to read your writing and hear your voice again! Life is good again 😉

    I agree whole-heartedly here, if we want someone to do something, we cannot just ask them. That won’t work. We can bribe them, but that will only work the once, and it may make things worse in the long run.

    So instead, we must, somehow, get them to ‘want’ to do it, as if it was their idea in the first place. That is the key, to get them to view your suggestion as ‘their’ suggestion. If they want to do it, you don’t need to do anything else 🙂

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Were you missing me Stuart?

      It’s good to back and writing again, I was really missing it.

      I like that idea of getting them to view it as their suggestion and that’s one way but I’m actually thinking slightly differently. I see inspiring as something a bit different. It doesn’t matter where they think the idea came from, just so long as it reaches and touches a part of them which gets them to act through their own volition, they do it because they know it’s part of their ‘greater plan’ to do so.

      Does that make sense?

  4. Tammy Matthews says:

    I often stear away when I get to this point. I don’t like asking people to do things. However, if I don’t ask I’ll never know if they would do it or not.

    I do my best to inspire people into action and touch their lives!

    Great post,

  1. April 6, 2011

    RT @amitsodha: 2 Ways To Get People To Take Action http://bit.ly/ig2HpK

  2. April 6, 2011

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  3. April 7, 2011

    2 Ways To Get People To Take Action http://t.co/L0QdY2h via @amitsodha

  4. April 7, 2011

    2 Ways To Get People To Take Action http://t.co/mwEw3ho via @amitsodha (How to encourage others to act)

  5. April 8, 2011

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