Are You a Leader Worth Following?
By Alan Olsen
Do you remember that game you played as a kid: called “Follow the Leader?” It was a simple game that most small children really enjoyed. Back then you didn’t give much thought to whether or not you should follow the leader. And the leader didn’t give muchthought to whether or not he or she was worth following. Everyone just fell in line and played the game.
Things don’t work like that in the real world. It might be nice if they did, but most people don’t want to follow the leader unless they know where the leader is taking them. Furthermore, people first want to know if their leader is even worth following, no matter the destination. So if you’re a leader, or want to be a leader, how can you know if you’re worth following?
Traits People Want to Follow
The key to getting people to want to follow you is having the right traits. Let’s look at what some of the most important traits of leadership.
You Must Have an Operating System–think of your workplace. How is it run? When running a business you can either make it up as you go, or you can implement an operating system. In other words, you have a process of running your business in place. Winging things might be fun, but it’s much harder to handle difficult situations if there is no operating system in place. So, good leaders use an operating system.
Accountability–good leaders hold people, including themselves, accountable. How do they do this? They use consequences. If there areno consequences for breakingthe established expectations then employees will not respect those expectations. Therefore, good leaders use set consequences to hold people accountable for their actions. Of course, those expectations and consequences need to be fair and they need to apply to everyone.
Be Direct–a direct and decisive leader is a leader worth following. Someone who beats around the bush, can’t make important decisions, and tries to avoid conflict or hurting people’s feelings is not worth following. Be honest and direct and getto the point. Your employees will follow suit.
Don’t Feed Your Ego–a good leader doesn’t worrying about getting praise from everyone else. He or she doesn’t waste time trying to build up his or her image. Instead, a good leader is confident in his or her abilities and they don’t mind praisingothers and building others’egos. This includes putting others first. Good leaders put their employees’ welfare over their own.
Leadership Is Earned–just because you own the company, or business, doesn’t make you a good leader. You can’t buy leadership. You have to earn it by your decisions, including the people you hire.
Support Your Managers–good leaders understand how important it is to support their managers all the way done down the line. Managers, especially middle managers, have the task of being the in-between for the upper management and the lower level employees. They need the support of good leaders. As the “middle man,” so-to-speak, they also have insight into what is working and what needs to be fixed. So leaders should not only support them, but also rely on them.