People Aren’t Puppets

Megan Piphus Peace is a talented singer, ventriloquist, and puppeteer who has appeared on the Tonight Show and America’s Got Talent. Last year, she did a stint on Sesame Street that has since turned into her becoming a core team member for the show.

I had a chance to sit down with Megan to discuss her career for a recent episode of the Leadership Lab podcast. I wanted to learn about her work and what she has discovered along the way.

It was a delightful and informative conversation. Megan shared that she was a shy child, but performing with puppets gave her confidence. Over time, that confidence allowed her to find her voice, determine her path, and make an impact.

As a leader, you have the opportunity to help people to find their voice, determine their path, and make an impact. When you set out to do so, I invite you to keep Megan in mind as a source of inspiration.

However, never forget that people aren’t puppets.

You can challenge team members to step up, give them opportunities to succeed, and model behaviors for them to follow. But, you shouldn’t do it for them.

With the very best of intentions, some leaders will treat people like puppets – they determine their voice, prescribe their path, and dictate the impact the team member will make in their work and career. It might be efficient in the short term, but it can often lead to disengagement, resentment, dependence, and frustration.

Be a leader who challenges and encourages, not one who tries to direct and control.

This week’s tool and video are designed to reinforce the idea that people aren’t puppets. Watch the video and keep the tool handy as a reminder. In addition, be sure to listen to the podcast so you can hear Megan’s story for yourself.

This Week’s Questions

  • Have you ever had a leader treat you like a puppet by telling you what to think, say, and do? How did it make you feel?
  • What’s the impact over time when you are treated that way?
  • How can you avoid doing the same to your team members?

This Week’s Challenge

Have a conversation with a team member about their voice, path, or impact. Reflect on how the conversation unfolded and easy or hard it was for you to avoid telling the team member what to do.