The inherent point of leadership – whether you are CEO of a major corporation, a small business owner, a coach, a teacher, or a stay-at-home parent – is that someone is following you. If you think you are leading, but no one is following, well, you know what that means!
This then begs the question: What is the “secret sauce” that will make people want to follow you as a leader?
There are many who think you either are born a leader or you are not – that only certain personalities can lead. As one who has studied the various strength profiles in depth, I can tell you that it is not limited to certain personalities. Introverts can lead just as well as extroverts if certain skills and characteristics are applied. Develop these as a leader, and others will want to follow you.
Calling means that what you do comes from a deep sense of purpose. It gives you contagious passion and conviction. It is clear you are doing something bigger than yourself, and others will want to be a part of it. Mother Theresa was a true leader in this sense. She was called to feed and care for the poor. Her conviction was so strong that, despite her introversion and in her own quiet way, she became a world leader.
The fact is, we are on this earth to do more than take up oxygen. Find your calling, stay true to your conviction, and others will be drawn to help you in your cause. Even if they don’t agree with what you stand for, they will still respect the fact that you are taking a stand and leading with purpose.
Charisma is what makes people want to be around you. Charismatic people are positive, passionate, caring, and others-focused. As my friend, Trudy Menke, once described it, charisma is when character meets enthusiasm. Charisma shows you care, and it creates energy. For some, this comes naturally. For others, it must be developed…and it can be. It starts with developing a heart for serving people.
Credibility brings respect. Followers want to know that you know what you’re talking about. Credibility brings respect. How do you gain credibility? Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes about ten thousand hours of doing something to reach expert status. Have you done your homework?
Character answers the “Can I trust you?” question with a resounding, “Yes!” Character is consistently doing the right thing. It is being a person of your word. It does not mean perfection. We all make mistakes. Character is being willing to admit those mistakes. Character is the building block of integrity. As a true leader, you must have integrity, which inspires the trust of your people.
People want to follow leaders to whom they feel connected…and who will connect them to other leaders, other followers, the best of themselves, and other great resources. In this sense, leading is connecting. It is connecting a person with strengths they did not know they had. It is connecting a person with other people who will help them grow and who can, collectively, accomplish goals. A great leader will connect with a need and then make the necessary connections to meet that need.
Followers want a leader who makes things happen. They are looking for a leader who will make good decisions and take strategic action. There are two parts to that equation – action (as in doing something) and strategic (as in doing something constructive). Inaction and action for the sake of action alone have the same effect on your team: frustration. Team members want to be a part of meaningful progress. Give them that opportunity by being a catalyst leader – one who takes strategic action.
Followers are looking for leaders with 360-degree vision. Don’t assume your people just want to know the superficial tasks required in their job. Take the time to share “the rest of the story” as the late Paul Harvey used to say. Share the insight you have with your team. The more they “see” what you see clearly, the more they can lead in the areas of their strengths to help you reach the goals you have set. Like a skilled Sherpa, guide your team to the summit so they can gain full perspective.
Need help shoring up your leadership skills or developing your team? Contact Deb Ingino to determine a plan that is right for you and your organization.