Friday, November 08, 2013

Hey Leader…Yes, This Is For You


Did you know that most (not all) people actually want to be led?  It’s not because they’re inherently weak people.  It’s because most people are not hard wired with the appropriate strengths to lead. 

If you’re one of the rare people in the pack who were built to lead, you carry a significant amount of responsibility on your shoulders to get it done the right way.  What does that mean?

My research clearly suggests that people who are willing to be led expect a few things out of anyone they’re willing to follow.  Followers need to know that they can trust their leaders.

People use different words to capture the topic of trust. They ask for honesty in a leader.  They tell me that they expect a leader to have high integrity.  Let’s see what the dictionary says about these words.

Trust:  To place confidence…To extend credit to

Honesty:  Free from deception…Truthful…Genuine…Reputable…Marked by Integrity

Integrity:  Soundness…Adherence to a code values…Utter Sincerity…Honesty and Candor

You see, Trust, Honesty and Integrity are really the same thing.  Most people want and need to be led.  If you’re a leader and you want to improve your ability to lead, start with connecting your words and your actions.

There’s another trait that comes up high on the list of my research terms.  It is the word Empathy.  No, it’s not a soft girly thing in case you’re a tough guy leader.  Oops, don’t tell the girls on my hockey team that I said that!

Here is what the dictionary says about empathy.

Empathy:  Capacity for participating in the feelings or ideas of another

To empathize means that for a moment, you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes to imagine what they might be going through.  Empathy isn't sympathy.   To empathize means that you actually care about the wants, needs and expectations of another person. 

Good to Know, Bad to Hear

In my first professional position, I sat across from a guy who always told people he was about to let them know what the needed to know but he was very clear in setting the expectation that they might not like what he was about to say.  He called it good to know, bad to hear information.

Leaders are truthful whether being truthful is going to make everyone feel good or not.  What my research clearly tells me is that the people you’re leading can handle bad news as long as you are consistent and as long as they trust you.  

Consistency:  Cohesiveness…Firmness…Uniformity of Behavior

Followers can handle having the bar pushed high and they can aspire to your heightened aspirations for success as long as they trust you as a leader.

At some point in your leadership development, your education, technical skills and certifications become the least important elements in your ability to move forward.  

Your behavioral traits take over when you're a leader.

Your followers want, need and expect you to be trustworthy.  They want you to be consistent.  They want you to care.


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