Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the best leaders are able to enagage others sufficiently to have them follow. For there to be a leader, there need to be followers too.
But what engages sufficiently in a leader to have them followed? Many will have asked that question before. There are probably seven key capabilities that the best leaders employ to be followed…
1) Charisma – great leaders have a sort of style that engages their people. This charisma can be very difficult to define, because it ranges from a very directive and disciplinary style to one which is laid back, informal and simply friendly, yet the key is that it engages.
2) Honesty – the best leaders realise that to try to fool their people in any way is unlikely to prove successful, so they go out of their way to be open and truthful in all they do.
3) Fairness – good leaders are diligent in how they treat all of their people in the same way – without favoritism – nor without mistreatment of individuals they think less of either.
4) Consistency – where leaders vary in their expectations, activities or plans, so that their people are not sure what to expect, it creates a sense of unease which makes commitment much more difficult.
5) Developmental – for many individuals in a team, stretching their potential is a big motivator, so leaders who see potential in their people and offer them development opportunities are usually very well thought of.
6) Safety – workplaces need to be challenging for employees, yet they also need to feel that risk-taking is acceptable and that when things don’t go to plan they will not be made to suffer.
7) Respect – wherever leaders use their position to show that they respect their people, they will find followers. Respect for the individual is as good as it gets for them, so yes, they will follow.
When leaders are finding their followers, these are seemingly simple rules to follow. Some will find them easy, others less so. Some will not know unless they ask their potential followers how they are seen.
Leaders may be born, up to a point, and there is still much that can be done to be even better.