When it’s all been said and done and leadership is stripped down to its bare essentials- I would very much agree with the authors of the book Strength’s Based Leadership when they said, “you are a leader only if others follow”. In fact famous leaders often measure leadership against ones ability to influence or how much one can convince people to buy in to an idea or a goal.
A leader is someone who can get things done through other people – Warren Buffet
I remember that John Maxwell’s book , Five Levels Of Leadership talks about the deepness of the influence you have on each “level”. You see, whether a leader is effective or not, he would have followers. Followers who follow just for the sake of it and followers who really believes and buys the vision. I don’t know about you, but the leadership I want to be part of is one that would solicit a response with conviction from those I lead. A leadership that would have a positive influence in the lives of the followers.
“The greatest leaders of the 20th century were Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. If that’s leadership, I want no part of it.” – Peter Drucker
If positive influence on the lives of your followers make you a leader worth following, then finding out the things that would help you achieve just that is very essential. That is what The Gallup Organization did in their research they used in the book Strength’s Based Leadership. They did a random sampling of more than 10,000 people (mostly outside the usual corporate/organization field like social networks, schools, churches and families) to see what are the qualities of the leaders that had a positive influence in their lives. In short, they wanted to answer the question: “What makes a leader worth following?”
Whereas seasoned leaders would value important traits like vision, purpose, wisdom, etc…, it might surprise some that these traits did not come out as the top reasons why people will follow a leader. These are the big four:
1. TRUST. People loved to follow a leader that knows how to establish and maintain an atmosphere of honesty and integrity. Somebody whom they can trust. Basing from one of Gallup’s national poll, performance and engagement of employees are drastically affected when they do not trust the leaders.
Honesty guides good people;
dishonesty destroys treacherous people. [Proverbs 11:3, NLT]
2. COMPASSION. Interesting that this is what we expect most from our leaders but this is somehow the least that we give out to the people we lead. In the pursuit of results, leaders have often times forgotten to be human. The keywords that the followers gave on compassion are: caring, friendship, happiness and love. Words that we rarely associate with leadership. It is good to know (or to be reminded) that “people will never care what you know, until they know that you care.” Compassion is what makes us human. It is part of our soul.
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? [ Mark 8:36, NLT]
3. STABILITY. William Girao said in his book Not Just Sundays, that Christians ought to be “stabilizing agents” to society (he was quoting 1 Corinthians 7:17-24 and talking about changing jobs). I think leaders should be stabilizing agents in the organization. People could not anchor their security on a leader who is easily swayed by circumstances. They want clear expectations and strong foundations- these things give security beyond the paycheck. As a follower, I would personally want a leader who can clearly state what is expected of me and where the direction of the team is going.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil. [Proverbs 4:25-27, NIV]
4. HOPE. The leader who creates more hope and optimism for the future wins. He wins the hearts of the followers, that is. Andrew Fuller once said that:
“Hope is one of the principal springs that keeps mankind in motion.” – Andrew Fuller
You can have live a few minutes without oxygen, a few days without water, but I think not a single second without hope. Hope sometimes draws the line between life and death- ask the suicide survivors. How much people strive for a better future is proportional to the hope that their leaders create. If you create hope, you fuel their passion and their self motivation.
At the end of the day, nobody can give you all of these, in a manner that your need will be 100% satisfied. I do not think that a perfect leader exist the same way that the perfect follower will ever exist. But people who believe in God knows that their work excellence, the reason they follow and the fuel for their passions – comes from somewhere else, or SOMEONE else. We anchor ourselves in a God who is the Truth (John 14:6), who feels what we feel and understands it (Hebrews 4:15), who is unchanging (Hebrews 13:8) and gives us a hope for the future (Jeremiah 29:11).
Andrew Fuller, compassion, Five Levels Of Leadership, follow, hope, john maxwell, leader, Mark 8:36, Peter Drucker, Proverbs 11:3, Proverbs 4:25-27, stability, Strength's Based Leadership, trust, Warren Buffet