I’ll never forget the sound of the words, “You’re making me look bad.” This is what our leader said to our team after working through the night, sixteen hours straight, to resolve a complex problem we’d never seen before. It was grindy, it was challenging, and it wasn’t an easy problem to solve yet the team had given up their personal time to work through the night to do the right thing for the business, our team and our leader. Our team stepped up and dug into hard messy work without a guarantee of success and our leader didn’t get it. It wasn’t about our leader; it was about all of us together. Moments like this pushed me away and eventually led me to my passion for helping develop inspiration leaders. I believe everyone wants to be inspired, make a contribution and feel appreciated. We all deserve to work with leaders worth following.
So, why would you want to be a leader worth following? Imagine a magnet, if you point the wrong side toward your followers, you push them away and have to work hard to bring them to work with you. If you point the right side toward your followers, you easily pull them toward you with no effort. You can’t help but attract them. The same is true for magnetic leadership. Team members that “get it” ask to follow you. They ask to join your team, they look for ways to further your cause and they understand how to make decisions that honor the team values and strategic purpose even when you’re not there. They begin to think like you but in their own unique way. Another benefit is potential poor fit team members that don’t “get it” are pushed away and save you the time and anguish of trying to bring them along.
You want to become a leader that others are magnetically drawn to. You want to be more than just management. The kind of leader who has people asking to join your team and inspires them to deliver their very best. You want to be yourself at work, as a leader and in all areas of your life and feel that you have an integrated life.
So how does someone become worth following? It starts with cultivating your authentic leadership purpose and values. Then, using that foundation, you developing depth of relationship with your followers and grow and develop them to reach mastery, make strategic decisions and have meaningful impact. These are the foundational elements that I’ve discovered create leaders worth following:
- Cultivate Authenticity: Know and be true to yourself. Challenge what you learn and ask if it’s my true core.
- Purpose: WHY would people want to follow you? Know and articulate your purpose as a leader and the impact you want to make in the universe.
- Values: Get clear on your values as a leader. Act and make decisions consistently within your values.
- Trust & Vulnerability: Build deep trust with your followers. Show up with vulnerability allowing others to get to know you and bring your whole self to work.
- Empathy & Gratitude: Seek to first understand how others feel and their perspectives. Develop a regular practice of being grateful and sharing your gratitude with others.
- Boundaries: Create healthy boundaries around what is most important in life, at work and away from work. Have clear boundaries with your team and master the ability to say "No" so you can say "Yes" when it matters.
- Accountability & Commitments: Regularly ask yourself and help your team ask the questions: What can I do? What is my part? Look for solutions, not blame, and help your team members learn to come with solutions, not just problems.
- Develop Others: Be well equipped to have developmental coaching conversations with your followers, both planned and in the moment. Learn to give feedback that can be heard. Your followers thank you for being honest with them and for helping them become their very best.
What will you do to be a magnetic leader worth following?