In my years of holding leadership positions, and as a leadership trainer and consultant, I have come to realize that what followers want in their leaders are almost the same across race, culture or gender. I still remember back in the days as a student leader in the university, I was voted the Chairperson of one of the most popular residence on campus. In fact, it was a huge responsibility because all eyes were on me to perform and meet the needs of the students. One thing I realize then was that, Elvis, if you truly want to survive in this leadership position, you have to pay close attention to the needs of your followers. Some of the lessons I learnt back then, coupled with my present leadership position, are what I’m about to share with you right now. One thing is to assume the position of leadership, and another thing is to actually take the lead as a leader. And as the saying goes, “if you are leading and no one is following, then you are actually taking a stroll.” Your success as a leader can only be judged by those you are leading and not yourself. Below are some of the things followers want in a leader.
Care: A True leader cares for his or her followers. In my “customer service leadership” training, I always tell my participants that Customers Are Really Everything (C.A.R.E). Meaning if you don’t take “care” of them, they will take “care” of their money elsewhere. Guess where—your competitors. Followers on the same vein want to feel important in the eyes of their leader. Your subordinates become submissive when you truly care for them. To care means to anticipate and meet the deepest needs of your followers.
Direction: Followers look up to the leader to show the way. The leader model a vision by providing a crystal clear mental picture to the followers of where they are going. And when as a leader you are not taking the lead to provide the needed vision to move ahead, your followers feel stuck and become weary of your leading. It’s a sign of weakness in your leadership when over time your followers discover you never show them a concrete picture of where they are heading. Your followers need direction and it’s dangerous to give them excuses whenever they ask for a way forward. The leader shows the way!
Role Model: People who influence our lives in a positive way are role models. Followers want to follow a leader who they can point to as an example in almost everything they do. Good leaders set the pace for their followers by their lifestyle, behavior and actions. Followers will become your fan for life as a leader when you become the mirror through which they see themselves and make adjustments to live a worthy and better life.
Courage: Courage is the ability to face danger without giving room to fear. It’s not the absence of fear but the capacity of an individual to launch ahead despite the odds. The followers will always watch to see their leaders’ reaction whenever faced with daunting situation that could make any mortal retreat to their shell. When the leader confronts the circumstance that comes their way with boldness, it breeds confidence and ultimately courage in their followers.
Relationship: Every follower wants to relate with their leader. They want their leader to be accessible. Good leaders develop healthy relationship with their followers. In the followers’ eye, a true leader is someone they can easily call by name without fear of being reprimanded. When a healthy relationship exists between the leader and followers, there is bound to be trust and confidence.
Empowerment: Empowerment is the development of knowledge, skills and abilities in the follower to enable them to control and develop their own learning. Leaders who realize that people are their most valuable asset always place top priority on developing them. As a leader, your followers will follow you to the extent to which you develop them. Your leadership becomes successful when you turn ordinary followers to become leaders.
See you at the Top!
Author. Trainer. Coach. Consultant
Lead Consultant, Visiondrivers Mgt. Consulting
+234 810 654 5127, +234 817 123 5284