10 Ways To Be a Leader People Choose to Follow
Authority, position and title won’t make you a leader.
Don’t worry about being a leader. Worry about being a person worthy of being followed.
10 leaders people choose not to follow:
- Tippy-toe leaders who live by fear.
- Hand-holding leaders who coddle rather than challenge.
- Finger-pointing leaders who never take responsibility.
- Face-saving leaders who protect their image at the expense of others.
- Butt-kissing leaders who change their behavior when top brass is around.
- Truth-shading leaders who bend the facts for personal advantage.
- Dark-cloud leaders who only see problems.
- Big-boss leaders who love telling people what to do.
- Glory-hound leaders who love praise and steal credit.
- Motor-mouth leaders who love the sound of their own voice.
10 ways to be a leader people choose to follow:
I asked a group to talk about the qualities of people they have gladly followed. Here’s a sampling of their responses.
- He saw things in me I didn’t see in myself.
- She cared about people and ran a tight ship.
- I was confident she had my back.
- He had competencies I aspired to gain.
- She’s always pressing forward.
- She gave me opportunities to talk.
- She was humble.
- He expected a lot out of me and himself. He walked the talk.
- He’s passionate to learn.
- They have good character. (Everyone nodded when character came up.)
4 added tips for aspiring leaders:
- Focus on adding value, not gaining followers.
- Become the person you would choose to follow. Would you follow you?
- Share your inner best intentions. Authenticity is more compelling than talent, skill, or competence.
- Honor people. People choose leaders who make them feel they matter.
What type of leader would you choose not to follow?
What kind of person would you follow?
Great lists presented here.. I’d add consistent.. I’ve always valued and appreciated those who are consistent, situation to situation, person to person..
I love the subtlety of “gave me opportunities to talk” such a powerful sensitivity that is…
Thanks Ken. Consistent means predictable. Predictable means we can trust someone. Great add.
I agree. It’s disappointing to voice your concerns and have someone always say “I understand, but…” Are they really hearing you?
Dan, excellent 285 words. We must learn how to behave as a leader before we become a leader otherwise it is leader in name only
Thanks Bob. You said a lot when you wrote, “behave as a leader before we become a leader…”
I was struck by your use of the word “leader” in each of your “10 leaders people choose not to follow” then by the lack of the word “leader” in each of your “10 ways to be a leader people choose to follow.”
Maybe in the first use these are people in leadership positions, though not really “leaders” … after all, as you’ve said many times, a leader is someone who earns the title from other people (aka followers) NOT someone who is given the title by the company (aka a promotion).
Thanks Mark. There’s always tension between people who have titles but really aren’t qualified to lead. It’s probably not an all or nothing proposition. However, thanks for noticing the distinction. I was thinking about leaders who had the title in the first list.
I think we can lead without a title. Hence, the lack of title in the second list.
Like Benjamin Zander says, we each can lead from any chair. 😊
Wishful thinking! Look at the reality and you’ll find a plethora of examples for any of the 10 categories of leaders “… people chose NOT to follow” where people follow anyway. People aren’t that picky as long as the money comes in. Otherwise many so-called leaders would never have attained their positions.
Thanks Norbgal. I suppose a better title of this post might be, How to be a leader people choose to follow even if they aren’t paid.
You are right, people follow leaders who talk too much all the time. They do it for pay.
Thanks Dan for your reply. You’re touching an interesting point here. In a business environment it is quite clear, we’re in it also for the money and we’re also paid to follow. Still, we have options to select from. I’m not sure how many people exploit their options. On the other hand side look at us as a herd of voters. Few of us are paid for voting. Which kind of leaders does the majority of us follow? I’m not pointing at any nation or person in particular …
Maybe we can distinguish, then, between ‘following’ and ‘being loyal to.’ For those of us who stick with our situation because it pays the bills, but holds little meaning, we would likely jump ship once the money disappears or our leaders change course. Conversely, if we truly feel belonging and loyalty toward our tribe and its leader(s), we are more willing to stick with it through hard times, even if the money dwindles.
Thanks Dr. Cheng. I find your distinction helpful.
I like this!! I have experienced much of this! Even wrote a book on it about being a camp director that others would follow! Thanks for your succinctness and insight! Did my book ever get to you?
Hi Earl. Thanks for your comment. Yes, your book did arrive, some time ago. Thank you
Another successful exercise in conciseness and meaning. Thank you!
Thanks Dr. Cheng.
Thank you Dan. As a transitioning leader in a brand new environment, these tips are extremely helpful and centralize one powerful theme. This powerful theme can best be described as, “It’s never about you – it’s always about them.” In my transition to leader, I have been told to focus on making people like me if I want to be successful. However, it’s much more than that. It’s about getting to know how people function at every capacity. It’s my supervisors and staff who equally need me to bridge the gap between them. As much as I want to be like my mentor/idol, Jackie “O,” I have a lot of restructuring and habits to break before I can be an effective leader; the type of leader people need me to be.
Thanks Christine. Congratulations on the opportunity you have earned.
When you wrote about making people like you, I thought about focusing on liking people. 😀
Great straight forward article. Thanks for keeping it simple.
My personal experience was that she followed me in return. There were some areas that I was more experience in and she let me lead. She gave me enough rope to hang my self and the whole department and there was no way that I could let them down.
Thanks Edgar. Nothing like some pressure to bring out our best.
I love the insights. Many people want to be leaders but few canny even follow themselves. To be a leader you need to have a spine to stand on your word.