How do people develop into the leader other people want to follow?

Put people first; they deserve it

Early in my career and began leading, I had a sense that people were important, but didn’t realize that they were most important.  Most of the leaders that I thought were good back then leaned heavily on their position to get results.   They seldom gave credit, and spent most of their time telling people what to do.

I thought getting more work done and getting credit is what being a leader was all about.  Something wasn’t right about this approach, but I couldn’t put my figure on it.

As time passed sadly, I was becoming the leader that I would run away from today.  Instead of trusting and empowering people to do what they were hired to do, I attempted to control others.  My former way of leading  was more focused on the results instead of the people that deliver results.  How embarrassing for me, but I hope that I can open the eyes of just one person that there is a better way.

Why is this so important?

Through my transformation, I learned that the controlling kind of leadership I practiced crushes people.   Worse, our followers take those wounds from work and hurt others.

I learned that hurt people, hurt people.

Thankfully, years ago I adopted a new way.  As a guiding principle, I decided that I would put people first . . . no matter what.  While I am not perfect, I live intentionally now.   Anyone that holds to this practice has my deepest admiration and I encourage you to carry-on.  We need you!

Character is crucial

There is a lot of talk today about building trust in our teams and organizations.  We’ve all heard it.   There are many facets.  Two that are important include the competency of the leader in the area they are asked to lead and their character.

More important than competency (which one can grow into), is the character of the person leading. We know a person’s character by what they do when things get difficult.  As I teach, when someone gets squeezed it’s their character that comes out.

People are always watching.  Our actions speak louder than words.  Actions reflect what is in the heart.  While people are forgiving and will work with people that are developing their expertise, they will not stay long with a person that has questionable character.

Own it; all of it

To become the leaders that others want to follow requires that we frame what we do in terms of our responsibilities to others. We are responsible to care for people, position them for success, create safe environments, catch them doing right things, bring positive energy, provide a vision they will commit to, give them the credit for their work, and stand up front when things don’t go as planned.

We do well to remember that leading is a privilege and we should not take this gift for granted as each individual in our lives means the world to someone else.

What kind of leader do we want to become?

Shepherding: The art of becoming the leader others want to follow