Leadership is one of the most complex and commonly debated topics in the business and management world today. Everyone has an opinion on what makes leadership and everyone will defend these opinions fiercely.
The fact is, leadership is highly desirable. We all know true leadership can change businesses, industries and the world.
The problem is we can’t all agree on what makes a great leader. The best leaders in the world, any leader for that matter, are all different and that is why we find it so hard to formalise what a leader should do.
I think the reason we find it so hard to formalise leadership is because it is not about the leader. Instead it is all about followers.
Followers choose to follow… they cannot be told or forced… They choose.
A leader only becomes a leader if they have followers who have chosen to do so. Without followers, you are not a leader. This is why leadership doesn’t have strict rules or a formula.
Different followers will follow different types of leaders, so the only thing you can do, is be the best version of yourself and if followers choose to follow, then you are a leader…
What do followers want?
I can only answer this question from my own point of view and I am keen to learn what YOU think, so please comment below! Here are five attributes that I believe the very best leaders display in abundance:
The best leaders I have ever worked with had a clear personal purpose or vision of who they were and what they stood for. They communicated this purpose as often as possible. If the leader had a purpose that linked closely with my values and beliefs, then I would instantly feel a deep connection and follow this leader with my heart and soul.
A leader I know and one I am inspired by, is brilliant at recruiting people who shared the same values and beliefs as he did. As a follower this was a fantastic experience. Being a part of a team who all had a common goal, not because they were told to, but because they wanted to created a huge amount of energy, passion and creativity. I can honestly say that a leader who surrounds themselves with the people who believe in their vision, pushed my performance and results higher than I could have imagined at the time.
Walk the talk
Simon Sinek articulated this beautifully when he described ‘The celery test’ in his book ‘Start with why’. Those leaders who walk the talk, who stand up for their values and will never compromise on those values to get a quick result. These are the type of leaders I love working for, I know they are authentic and I know they will have my back. As a follower I feel trusted, so I give all of my trust freely to them.
Trust – The best leaders I have ever followed have always ensured that I had the skills and capability to do the task in hand and then allowed me to complete that task in my own way. In simple terms they trained, coached, supported and allowed autonomy. The power of supporting people when they need skills and capability and getting out of the way of those same people to allow creativity and ownership is significant. As a follower I don’t want to feel out of my depth and unsupported, yet I also don’t want to feel as though I am being dictated to or controlled. The leaders that have found that balance, I have followed most passionately.
Encourage and Value
A really simple idea. As a follower I like to know that I am adding value, doing a good job and my behaviours are positive. These factors, being rewarded with encouragement and praise, really boost my confidence and drive me to perform even better. However as a follower this needs to be conducted in an authentic and personal way to get the best out of me, so by that I mean it is not about incentives and bonuses… Don’t get me wrong more money and prizes were nice, but they never made me work harder or inspired me like genuine encouragement would.
Those were the five attributes that I believe the very best leaders display in abundance, what do you think should be in this list? Please comment below!