Anyone can take on a leadership role, but that doesn’t mean you automatically earn the confidence and trust of your followers. The truth is that you can learn to become a better leader that people would want to follow. No one is born a leader. Leadership is something that can be learned. Anyone can hone the skills necessary to become a ‘follow-worthy’ leader.
It takes dedication to learning and finding a calling or a purpose to make a positive difference in the lives of others. It’s investing in your development and adding value to the people around you.
Does your leadership encourage others to follow you anywhere?
As a leader, that’s the same question you should ask about your own leadership: “Why would anyone follow me?” It takes courage to be honest with yourself. But no one will follow if you’re not leading for the right reasons.
People want leaders who can engage their hearts and minds. Just think about the leaders you follow or maybe someone that reflects leadership qualities you admire and want to emulate. What qualities do they have as a leader? Here is a great way to measure your leadership-I have a quote that I think is the measure of a great leader. It was articulated by John Quincy Adams,
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
What kinds of leaders draw and influence people in a positive way? Generally, they possess many of these four qualities:
They care about the people they lead
People follow leaders who genuinely care about others. It sounds simple, yet this is an area where so many leaders fall short. Many people come up through the management ranks without placing enough value on the human connection. When I think of a mentor or a leader that impacted my life and my career, I think of someone that genuinely cared for my wellbeing. They took the time to learn about me as a person as much as about what I do. Great leaders care about their people and stay in touch on a personal level. That doesn’t mean you are warm and fuzzy. It simply means you value the people around you. The best leaders make their reports feel valued – or inspire them do those things that’ll ultimately make them feel better.
They have good character
John Wooden, American basketball player and coach said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” This is could not be so true than any other time.
Leadership character is the key to building and sustaining mutual trust and collaboration with others. Character can’t be faked. People will see right through you. Character is the backbone of your leadership. One of the reasons many leaders struggle with character issues is that they tend to look outside themselves to explain any areas of deficiencies in their own character. The development and shaping of your character is an inside job.
People want someone they can trust. Does that mean you are perfect? No. But it means having the integrity and courage to be honest with the people you lead. Good character doesn’t mean you are not making mistakes. It means you take ownership to share the truth and be humble to learn from it. That’s what people want in their leader.
They bring out the best in others
Leaders focus on people’s strengths. They want to help others succeed. It doesn’t mean they overlook areas of improvement, but people are following someone who brings the best in them rather than focusing on their weaknesses.
Every morning, the best leaders commute to work asking this question: “How am I making my people better?” How can I add value to them? “Many leaders are always complaining about what their people can’t do. Is the glass half full or half empty?
Great leaders seek opportunities to help their people grow and develop confidence. Even when their people fall short, they know it takes time, trial, and error before they finally get better. In short, leaders see what others can’t because they look for it. They have patience, understanding and willingness to help by providing on-going coaching to encourage their people to succeed.
They build a culture of trust
Trust is the X Factor of any leadership. If people can trust you, most likely they will follow your lead. Mutual trust, open communication, mutual support and respect for the individual are the golden keys to foster trust in any organization. Trust is influenced by your actions more than your words. Are you talking the talk? Are you there as part of your team or remotely managing from your office?
Trust takes a long time to build and destroyed in seconds. If your actions are consistent with your words, people will have confidence in your leadership.