Are you honest and respectful? Do you lead by example? Do you do what you say you will do? When you make a mistake, do you take responsibility for it?
If leaders can’t answer with a resounding yes to these types of questions, chances are some of the people we are supposed to be leading are not following.
When we are effective leaders, people will willingly take on tasks and go the “extra mile” – not because they are forced to, but because they want to. Being a leader means different things to different people. I describe a leader as someone who inspires and influences others to willingly act – they act because they want to, not because they have to. Leaders have earned trust, and they are therefore able to influence others to act without using coercion.
There are three main elements highlighted in the preceding description needed for employees to willingly follow: inspiration, influence and trust.
Inspiration: Leaders inspire employees by being genuinely enthusiastic about believing in the organization’s mission and vision. They articulate how the organization makes a difference. They focus on ensuring that everyone feels included in the mission and vision so that it truly is shared and collective – one that everyone is excited about and proud of.
Trust: Employees must trust us! They must believe that we have their best interests at heart, not our own. We can have a compelling strategy and high intellect, but if people don’t trust us, we will never be able to get the results from them that we desire.
Trust is never associated with our title – trust must be earned, which takes time. An interesting thing about trust is that it goes both ways – trust requires two parties. We must trust our employees for them to trust us.
Influence: Most leaders understand that a main part of our jobs is to influence our team towards the desired goal and vision the organization is working towards. As leaders we can demand people do things by imposing our authority, but we won’t be trusted or inspirational. Influence is born out of trust and inspiration – we must first be trusted before we can inspire others to be mobilized into action – before we can influence.
I believe one other attribute is essential for leaders to possess: authenticity. We can’t inspire, earn trust or influence if we aren’t authentic. Authenticity is the consistent alignment of what we say with what we do. It is a congruency between how we behave at home and at work.
While this is not an exhaustive review of characteristics required for leadership, these important elements provide a foundation of what is needed to be a leader worth following.
ACHIEVE is conducting a study for a book we are working on and we would love to hear your input.
The book will draw heavily on “A Great Place to Work” Survey. We hope you participate in the short survey – we would love to hear your input.