10 Tips to Help You Become a Leader Worth Following
Have to vs Want to
Have you ever worked for someone simply because you needed a job or a pay check? Being in that situation isn’t very fun.
Mentally, want to & have to are very different. When we want to work for someone, life is much brighter. When we work for someone worth following, we have a spring in our step, we want to hustle and work harder. But, when we are forced to work for a weak leader, even things we like to do become tedious.
What is the difference? Why do we want to work for some leaders while others provoke us to talk behind their backs or applaud when they leave?
Leaders worth following – are liberating
A liberating leader learns how to calibrate support and challenge in a way that communicates that they are for you. When you know a person has your back, you are more open when they bring challenge and constructive criticism. A liberator is like the best coach or teacher you ever had, fully equipping you and getting the most out of you. They help you to achieve what you want anyway, the very best you!
Liberating leaders fight for the highest possible good for those they lead.
Is anyone fighting for your highest possible good? What do they do to show support and challenge for you, and your colleagues? Can you see how the individual best good of everyone on the team works to benefit everyone corporately?
Now, let’s discuss you. Are you fighting for the highest possible good of those you lead? Are you liberating others or dominating them? Are you a leader worth following or the one who people grumble about after work?
If you truly want to grow in your ability to lead, and aren’t afraid of a little hard work, take a look at these 10 tips to help you become a leader worth following:
1. Lead yourself first.
A big frustration in leadership is hypocrisy. When you tell someone to do something that you are not doing yourself, the hypocrisy leads to gossip, drama, and a lack of trust. Leading yourself means becoming self-aware; it’s learning to look for and see issues in your own life before pointing them out in others. Consider this phrase, “know yourself in order to lead, yourself.”
2. Understand your tendencies of support and challenge.
Liberating leaders calibrate high support and high challenge. I want you to consider your leadership style: Do you have a tendency to be more supportive and encouraging? Or do you tend to be more task-focused with high expectations? Both support and challenge are needed, but there are healthy and unhealthy versions. When you learn how to use them appropriately and in a healthy manner, you will be the type of leader others want to follow. Recognize your tendency and adjust accordingly.
3. Learn how to be consistent.
One of the keys to great leadership is consistency. The inconsistent leader wreaks havoc on their organizations and teams precisely because their ups and downs prevent those they lead from being able to get into a rhythm. This lack of consistency results in communication problems, morale issues, lack of trust, and gossip. Learn how to consistently communicate, train, share ideas and organize. Consistency is an under-discussed (and certainly under-utilized) art.
4. Be present and productive.
There is a growing tension between work & life balance. Smart phones, working from home, and social networks can trick us to into being physically present but socially and emotionally disengaged. Great leaders learn how to be both present and productive at home and at work. The secret is to learn to be in the “right gear at the right time”. Look at your daily routine and find areas where you’re not being present (but should be) and begin learning how to shift in and out of being present and productive.
5. Lead intentionally.
Accidental is reactive. Intentional is proactive. Leaders worth following are those who think ahead. Positive change, growth, and gaining influence do not happen when you are accidental. Leadership is easy to abdicate. Great leaders know being intentional is worth the effort it requires.
6. Eliminate insecurity.
Insecure leaders are dangerous because they leave a wake of damage in their teams and families. Secure leaders create an environment of empowerment, opportunity, and growth.
Before you can eliminate insecurity, you first have to spot it.
Consistently check yourself for unhealthy self-preservation with these three questions:
1. What am I afraid of losing?
2. What am I trying to hide?
3. What am I trying to prove? To whom?
7. Be confident.
Each of us has skills and abilities that we bring to the table. Some people make their talents known by being over- confident, and consequently push others away. Others de-value their own talents and appear timid or insecure. Good leaders take time to discover their strengths, deal with their insecurities, and walk in confidence knowing they play an important role. When you appear arrogant or insecure, you cripple those around you with frustration or doubt. Note: arrogance and confidence are not the same thing. Humility must be at your core.
8. Lead for the sake of others.
Leadership is influence, and influence gives you power. How you use that power is extremely important. Prideful leaders use their power to manipulate, dominate, and overpower others. Humble leaders use their power to empower, serve, and liberate others. We need more leaders who lead for the sake of others, not for the sake of themselves.
“Anyone can make an impact. You only need influence; it is the most potent professional asset on the planet. The problem is that influence is also the most underused asset on the planet. And the primary reason is that the enemy of influence is a universal human trait: self-preservation. If leaders are too concerned with protecting their status and reputation, they limit their opportunity to forge open & honest ties with others.”
9. Know those you lead.
Everyone wants to be known. When you spend time building real, authentic relationships with your team members, they will open up in unexpected ways. This usually only happens once they know you are for them, not against them or for yourself. You will also discover how to inspire and encourage them to grow and will continue building a culture of trust and security which is foundational for success.
10. Make it fun.
Leaders should make life and work fun. Lighten up, please. Think intentionally and proactively how to make your culture more exciting. Create opportunities at lunch or special dinners. You don't need to be like Michael Scott from The Office when he winds up making everyone feel awkward around each other. Instead, think about how to appropriately make things fun with those in your world. Work on the culture and you will get strong results.
Leadership is influence. Influence provides power. How that is used makes all the difference.
At the end of the day, be known as a leader worth following, constantly fighting for
the highest possible good for those you lead and love.