Will you follow me?

Attracting the right people to our message . . . our way of leading is a focal point of shepherding our teams effectively.

If you are feeling disappointed today because you and your team are not getting the results you deserve, read on. This article may contain insights that help you see new possibilities to aid you and your team complete the mission.

Shepherding inspires people to follow because they want to come where you are going.

Opportunity #1: Rethink how we engage people

We create real problems when we don’t invite people to follow. 

Leaders today have real challenges. Unless we are a people leader it might be difficult to be empathetic because we think they make the rules and can do whatever they want.

Let’s take a minute to contemplate the real pressures people leaders face. Perhaps pressures you are facing?

Bottom line… those that lead others are expected to get work done. Done right. Done as fast and efficiently as possible. They also have to keep their “engagement scores” high. Or at least higher than their peers.

Where do they find the time to help their people?  Most leaders I know wished their teams could understand them better, their goals, objectives, even their vision. In the faced-paced environment, time gets cut short and they find themselves running from meeting to meeting without a break.

How do we expect them to do better in the current environment?  Two things think about. First, if you are one of these leaders, start with just one employee that can help you spread your message while building trust. And secondly, for the rest, ask your leader how you can help them.   

Opportunity #2: Lead by example

Many people in charge think their title is what makes them leader. If you are early in your leadership journey, you may have this view. Don’t worry, it won’t last long if you are looking for people to follow you willingly.  It must.

The best leaders realize that a title is an invitation to responsibility. Primarily responsibility to serve, cast vision, inspire, make change, and encourage others in their development. Can you think an exemplary leader who didn’t do these things?  My guess is it would be a difficult challenge.

Some people leaders don’t agree leadership is primarily a responsibility to those they serve. It is true that one can get results doing things differently.  We probably have felt the results.   What I have observed and experienced when leaders look primarily to power and authority to get things done it brings with it pain and suffering.  The pain is mostly absorbed by the teams, but ultimately it comes back on them.

If you act (or your people think you act) like people are a means to your ends you may have a short career. Most of us start thinking authority, power, and position is the way to gaining followership and thankfully at some point we realize there is more to leadership than getting what we want accomplished.

Those that lead by authority alone should consider there is always someone like them, but with a bigger title.  

Whatever title we have been granted, the best leaders use it in helping their people and the organization. They recognize that a title is not a license to do whatever they want.

The best leaders use their title to help remove roadblocks from those they serve.

Opportunity #3: Strengthen relationships

Exemplary leaders understand that in work and in life, people matter most. We need to respect people, care about them, and find common ground to get things done.

I realize some people are more lovable than others.

To help, think about this next time a person challenges your patience. Remember that every individual came into this world the same way. Someone’s baby girl or baby boy that was loved and cherished.

When we think this way, we will be in a better position to value them.

A leader cannot accomplish anything without people working with them in completing the mission. We can accomplish even more when our people trust us.

Without trust, there is no opportunity to connect

Opportunity #4: Increase competency

One of my workshop attendees explained it best when it comes to the importance of a competent leader, “no one wants to follow a dummy” he told me with a smile. At the time, the whole group had a laugh. It’s true, people won’t follow a person who doesn’t know what they are doing.

While we don’t need to know everything, we do need to add value to the team.

People that lead must have a track record of successfully leading people from here to there. We should be dedicated to learning, practicing, and demonstrating proficiency in our craft.  How else do we get better?

Leading doesn’t require a title

Opportunity #5: Choose a positive attitude

Attitude is super important, but not by itself, it won’t help much. People that have the best attitudes but make poor decisions are not worth following.

Attitude is not a substitute for ability.

Ability comes through our experience, learning, and practice. Having a positive attitude in the face of obstacle is tremendous benefit to the team. With a positive attitude we can inspire them to believe that they can overcome the challenge they are facing. Attitude is powerful and it is one of the few things we can control.

Opportunity # 6: Articulate where you are going

Leaders worth following know where they are going. Please be one of them.

We’ve heard some leaders say that we will figure it out as we go along. Oh my!

While we understand the value in being adaptive, there is much more value in setting the vision to align the team and getting them engaged to help us get there efficiently. When we hear leaders talk like they aren’t sure where they are going, most followers don’t have time to wait around to see how it will all turn out. We aren’t interested in living our short lives ending up in a place where we find ourselves lost because the person we are following didn’t take their leadership responsibility seriously enough.

What this looks like in our personal lives

It isn’t like we don’t do this with other aspects of our lives. We don’t leave on vacation without the plan of where we are going, what we will do and the necessary belongings to have a great time.  Don’t we the same to our teams when we are asking them to go with us?

We are not suggesting that we don’t adapt, instead we prefer setting clear vision to prevents confusion.  Sharing our vision shows the way we intend to go; allowing each team member to decide for themselves how they can help bring it into reality through their role on the team and responsibilities to the organization.


  1. Have a conversation with a member of your team and let them guide where it goes
  2. Be purposeful about learning something new to refine your craft
  3. Choose to be positive and catch someone doing the right thing and tell them
  4. Take time to share your vision for the team with those you lead and let them ask questions

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