There is a chapter in the book, “Strengths Based Leadership” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie that discussed Why People Follow. Because every person reading this is either a leader of people or must follow the leadership of another, this is very pertinent to our work success. Why are some individuals considered great leaders, while others, though technically strong, are considered poor leaders? What makes YOU want to follow someone? Who are those terrific leaders that you would follow whether or not you report in their organization? Think of an individual leader that has made a significant impact on your life. See if that individual possesses the attributes that emerged from the study of Rath and Conchie.
Rath and Conchie, surveyed over 10,000 randomly selected individuals to identify what words describe a great leader in their own life. Four key themes emerged which describe what people want and, thus, why they follow great leaders:
- Trust (which includes honesty, integrity and respect) – Can I believe you? Do you do what you say you’ll do? Are you honorable? Would I want my spouse, son, or daughter working for you? Will you always do the right thing, even when it is difficult? How have you personally sacrificed for me or for our team?
- Compassion (which includes caring, friendship, happiness, and love) – Do you really care for me as an individual? Do you want me to be successful? Am I important to you? Do you really try to help me balance my work with my life? Do you care about my opinion? Does my input count?
- Stability (which includes security, strength, support, and peace) – Do you have my back? Are you working to secure our future? Do you deal with issues that make our work difficult? Will you stand strong when needed? Are you there for me?
- Hope (which includes direction, faith, and guidance) – Do we have a purpose and have you conveyed that? Do we know where we are headed? Have you conveyed the strategy and how we fit in? Will you personally work to keep us on track? Are you positive? Do you make us feel good about our work?
Do you agree with these four attributes? Do you believe these are essential for great leaders? Why do you think attributes, such as results oriented, technically competent, organized, etc. were not included in these four themes? Do you think these are too “soft” for leaders?
So, if you agree that the very best leader in your life possessed these attributes, how many of these do you consistently exhibit? Would individuals in your group agree that you exhibit trust, compassion, stability, and hope? Or, are you so focused on results that you fail to consider the needs of your individual team members? The real question is, “Who would or do you follow?” Then, ask why. Then, begin working those key reasons into your own approach. Something to ponder….
Have one of those “best days yet!”