Great leaders understand that people will not follow you just because you want them to, or because you say they must. Leaders create a following only by being the type of leader that people want to follow. So the question for aspiring leaders becomes, “How can I get people to want to follow me?” If you’re a leader with this question on your mind, consider these things:
People follow leaders they trust.
No matter how good you may be at your job, regardless of your skills, knowledge or talent, you will not create a following without first being a person that people can come to know and trust. Character goes much farther than brains when attempting to recruit believers to your cause. People will quickly see through a charade if you are trying to be someone you’re not. Great leaders not only talk the talk, they walk the walk!
People follow leaders who care.
When you want to lead so others will follow, you have to care about them as individuals. When a person feels that he matters as a person, that his opinions are valued and his efforts appreciated, he is far more likely to respond in a positive manner. The more a leader or manager proves genuine interest and concern for his employees, the more loyal his believers and followers will become.
People follow leaders they can talk to.
It is impossible to make the kind of connection necessary for strong leadership support if your followers can’t approach you. You must be available and open to discussion, ready to listen sincerely, and willing to acknowledge valuable input and suggestions. This consistency will help build trust and increase the confidence of your team.
People follow leaders they admire.
The most important trait that others will see and value is a leader’s sense of commitment. A great leader must be ready to give everything he has for the cause he believes in. If a leader cannot demonstrate his own true dedication to the company goals and objectives, how can he expect others to follow along?
People follow leaders they respect.
Respect never comes automatically with position or title, it must be earned. Initially, people may follow along with a leader because he is the person in charge, but ultimately they will follow a leader whom they respect. Being able to do the job well increases a leader’s credibility. It is when things get tough and a leader must stand up to his commitments, that he will develop a following of individuals who respect him and his competence.
All of the above actions are built on the principles of influence, not position. Everything a leader does, and everything he says plays a critical role in the way he ultimately influences those around him. It is this influence that builds the trust, confidence and loyalty that every good leader strives for.