4 things you should do to become a leader others want to follow?

You need to know them

As a developing leader, I have made many errors. I remember at university leading a group project that involved 5 other students from different walks of life. Having received our assignment, I jumped right in with gathering peoples thoughts on what a successful outcome may look like. Whilst other teams had spent time getting to know the personalities, hopes and dreams of those around them. I had skipped this rewarding trust-building activity. After all, what difference does it make to our project if “Chloe likes running at the weekends”?

Within the week the team had begun to fall apart! Intentions were misunderstood, voices not heard and tempers flared. The lesson? Getting to know your team means going beyond the shallow “how are you doing”? It requires us to ask questions like:

What do you love doing outside of work?

  • Do you have a large/small family?

  • Where’s home for you?

  • Do you have a hobby you would love to turn into a business?

Caring enough to ask these questions and following up on these questions is not manipulation. It’s relational transformation. It’s showing your team you care. It shows you understand that no one person is the same. Craig Groeschel nails it when he says: “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.

You need to love them

A great mentor of mine, John Maxwell perfectly sums this point up when he says: “you can’t lead someone until you love them”.

To be clear I am not advocating getting into a romantic relationship with every team member. You and I know the score on that. Unemployment. But, the point is love takes many forms.

For those who don’t know Dave Ramsey, Dave is a successful businessman/author and speaker on finance and leadership. But, It is not his success, titles or letters after his name that impresses me. It is his heart for his people. Recently I heard how he and his fellow leaders had turned up to a team members house. Armed with trucks and chainsaws they spent a weekend helping one of their own employees to clear the devastating mess left behind after a major storm.

Whilst we may not be able to visit our colleagues with trucks and chainsaws we can show our love to our team today by:

  • Sending a co-worker a book to help them develop

  • Lending a listening ear to a co-worker going through a difficult time

  • Helping a co-worker to achieve a task that falls outside of your “role”

  • Putting a co-worker forward for an exciting new project they would enjoy

You need to serve them

Leadership is not a reward. It’s a responsibility. A responsibility to serve those in your care and refrain from expecting to be served. Nowhere illustrates this point more beautifully than Agnes’ story.

Agnes was an intelligent young woman with a life of potential ahead of her. Agnes was struck one day with a clear calling. “ To help the unwanted, the unloved and the uncared for.” Armed with basic medical supplies, a desire to help and a strong faith she set out for the streets of Calcutta. Setting up soup kitchens and creating spaces to hear the struggling, Agnes practically helped to improve the lives of those around her. Agnes or Mother Teresa as she would be later known was a leader. A world-changing leader!

Whilst you and I may not be able in this moment set up soup kitchens and homes for the needy, we can serve our co-workers today:

  • Can you remove a challenge from a co-workers plate?

  • Can you connect them to a person who may speed a task up?

  • Can you take a repetitive task from them to allow them to focus on what they do best?

You need to challenge them

All of us have a desire to look exceptional. Few of us have the desire and follow through to become exceptional. As John Maxwell puts it “the effectiveness of your work will never rise above your ability to lead and influence others”. True for my life, how about yours? When I have found myself frustrated at other people’s work or lack of I have to admit that I also play a role in that. If we as leaders do not grow ourselves and encourage others to do the same. We and the people we lead will forever be different shades of ineffective.

First, then we need to be growing ourselves:

  • Start listening to John Maxwell, Craig Groeschel, EntreLeadership etc today

  • Start reading John Maxwell, Jim Collins, Ram Charan, Patrick Lencioni etc today

  • APPLY IT! If you dont apply the lessons in your work you are not developing. You have to allow it to change you today

  • REPEAT! Your daily decision to improve via reading, listening and watching will compound over time

Second, we need to be encouraging others to do the same:

  • Recommend they start following John Maxwell, Craig Groeschel and EntreLeadership etc today

  • Set up a time to discuss the ideas you learn as a team

  • Be sure to include those lessons as part of your performance review process and reward/realign against them

  • Remind your team that “being exceptional” is a lifetime’s work. It’s not a onetime event

If you liked this article, please consider subscribing to The Development Community Leadership Podcast. It’s free! This is where I share unique stories bringing to life many of the key soft skills you and I need to develop to thrive professionally and personally! My dream is to see young people in organisations able to better COMMUNICATE, CONNECT and LEAD to great effect!


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