How to be a Leader Worth Following

[Excerpt from The Culture Question]

Are you honest and respectful? Do you lead by example? Do you do what you say you will do? Do you take responsibility for your mistakes?

If you can’t answer these questions with a resounding “Yes,” chances are some of the people you are supposed to be leading are not following you.

We define a leader as someone who inspires and influences others to willingly act – leaders motivate employees to act because they want to, not because they have to. Leaders who are willingly followed have earned trust and are therefore able to influence others without using coercion. In organizations with effective leaders, employees willingly take on tasks and go the extra mile – not because they are forced to, but because they want to.

Work on these three core elements of leadership to contribute to a strong workplace culture:

  1. Build trust.

    If employees don’t trust you, you will never be able to get desired results from them. This is why you must work toward developing relationships of mutual trust. When you care about your employees and have their interests in mind, not just the organization’s, you increase the amount of confidence they have in you. In fact, the strongest correlation we found in our survey data was the connection between leaders who have established trust and those who have demonstrated that they care. (To learn more about this connection, see page 190 of our Survey Analysis.)

  2. Inspire others.

    Employees are inspired by leaders who are genuinely enthusiastic about their organization’s mission and vision and who can articulate how their organization makes a difference. To be an inspiring leader, you must be positive, verbalize your enthusiasm for projects, and express gratitude for your team. You should also ensure that everyone feels included in your organization’s mission and vision so that it is shared and collective – one that everyone is excited about and proud of.

  3. Exert conscious influence.

    As a leader, your voice is amplified – you play a significant role in influencing your team toward its goals. To do this effectively, you need to practice conscious influence, which means carefully discerning where and when you voice your opinions, ask for advice, and give direction. Remember: respected leaders build their influence through trust and inspiration, not by imposing their authority.

Although much more can be expected of a leader, these three elements are foundational for becoming a leader who is worth following.


For more FREE RESOURCES on this topic and others, visit our free resources page.

Randy Grieser, Author, Speaker

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