August 28

Followers: Focus On What Do They Want

“Followers”. How many people follow you wholeheartedly, doing extraordinary work?

It might sound demeaning to call some people followers and others leaders. The truth is, we all play multiple roles in our lives. Sometimes we are a leader, sometimes a follower. In all cases, guess what, the best leaders have awesome followers! The inverse is true as well, the worst leaders don’t have any followers. They have people that ‘report’ to them but reporting to a leader does not equal engagement or willingness to go the extra mile when asked. The number of employees who have mentally quit but stayed in their job is alarming. You can tell a good leader by how many people follow them wholeheartedly, doing extraordinary work.

If you want more followers or more engaged followers, what should you focus on giving them as their leader?

Tom Rath and Barry Conchie became famous for a book they entitled Strengths Based Leadership. Their research looked at the positive influence of effective leaders. They asked respondents for three descriptive words about the leader and how they contributed to the follower’s life. The research summarized four things that followers want the most from a leader. The good news is that they are all achievable:

  • Trust
  • Compassion
  • Stability
  • Hope

Leaders who focus on the relational aspects of leadership will not be shocked by this list. But those who view leadership as a position and use ‘command & control’ to demonstrate their leadership will be shocked that these qualities matter the most to followers.

Teddy Roosevelt once said: “People don’t care how much you know until they know much you care”.

Is the job of a leader to ‘get things done through others’? Or is it to ‘inspire and motivate others to high performance? Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman have plenty of data to show us that to improve employee satisfaction and commitment, extraordinary leaders will use a balance of push and pull to achieve results. In Joe Folkman’s article Top 9 Leadership Behaviors That Drive Employee Commitment, he states: “Leaders who are effective at inspiring and motivating others have a high level of energy and enthusiasm. They energize their team to achieve difficult goals and increase the level of performance from everyone on the team.”

Challenge Questions:

  • Who is following you? And how strong is their commitment to follow your lead?
  • Are you effectively inspiring and motivating?
  • Do you know what your followers want and are you providing it for them?

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