Just because you are in a position to lead doesn’t mean people actually want to follow you. And just because you are not in a position to lead, doesn’t mean that you cannot have an influence on others.
We all have the ability to look and act like a leader, even if we are not in a leadership role. A leader is simply someone who others WANT to follow. In order for people to want to follow you, you will need to earn their trust and respect.
This is how it’s done.
Great leaders are able to put themselves in the shoes of their followers. Being empathetic allows leaders to help struggling team members improve and excel. When you’re empathetic, it allows you to understand how your followers will react to certain decisions you make before you make them because you are able to see where they are coming from.
Leaders need to be able to communicate effectively to their followers. When it comes to being a leader you need to communicate many things, including tasks, responsibilities, the vision of the organisation, and many more. You need to clearly articulate these details so that your followers aren’t led astray. You will be able to run your organisation much more efficiently if you do not have to waste time re-explaining things or fixing issues caused by miscommunication.
Leaders must be able to display confidence as their followers are looking for them to be competent. When a leader comes off as insecure or indecisive, their followers will lose faith in their leaders’ ability to lead. Leaders also have to be cautious about being over-confident or arrogant. You need to trust in your own decision-making abilities but know when to seek the counsel of your followers.
Do As You Preach
One of the quickest ways to lose the respect of your followers is to be seen as a hypocrite. When you are in a leadership position, it’s important that you do as you preach. By following this creed, you’re setting an example for your team and letting them know that no one is above the organisation’s values. When you go against this, you’re showing everyone that your organisation’s values are not important.
Being authentic is very important when it comes to gaining the trust of your followers. Most respected leaders are personable and genuine; in other words, they are “being themselves.” Followers want to put their faith in a leader who they feel is truthful and doesn’t have hidden reservations. When you be yourself it becomes much easier for your followers to connect with you.
Talk Less, Listen More
You might believe that leaders are always talking but the truth of the matter is that great leaders listen much more than they speak. You should listen to, not just hear, what your followers have to say. Make sure to listen to their concerns and do your best to meet their needs. Listening more than you speak allows you to be more selective and concise with your words.
As a leader you need to not only be able to take responsibility for initiatives that you championed successfully, but also take responsibility for your failures. Not only do you have to take responsibility for your own shortcomings, but also for those of your team. It’s your responsibility to lead your team and when they don’t deliver, you need to be able to fix what went wrong and not blame others.
Do Your Fair Share
Good leaders don’t only give orders, they are also getting their hands dirty and doing their fair share of work. Others will notice if you aren’t pitching in or are just continually pushing off unexpected and last-minute problems to other members on your team. You’ll exert the most influence when others see you working as hard, if not harder, than they are.
Be Passionate If you want to be a successful leader, you must be passionate about what you’re trying to accomplish. Many times, when you try to do something big that you’re not passionate about, you will fail miserably. If you don’t fail, you may succeed, but the journey there is definitely not an enjoyable one. When you’re working on something you’re truly passionate about, you’re not working — you’re doing what you love.
The greatest leaders are those whose influence helps others achieve accomplishments that they may have not been able to do by themselves. One of the best ways to motivate others is by recognising each person’s greatest value and helping them harness that potential. Most leaders will admit to having a leader/mentor when they first started out who helped motivate them to strive for more.
Great leaders are strong. They need to be, as they always have to carry the weight of their team. With that being said, there are also times when you need to be vulnerable with your team. Showing some vulnerability allows you to be open with your team and discuss the hard topics. You need to able to discern the difference between showing vulnerability and showing weakness.
Just as important as it is to show confidence as a leader, it’s important to show humility. Showing humility allows you to connect with your followers because you are positioning yourself in relation to others. By showing humility, you are showing that you don’t think that you are better than anyone else and that everyone in the organisation should be treated with the same respect.
Trust is one of the hardest things to gain and one of the easiest things to lose. Having trust between leaders and other members is absolutely critical to having a successful organization. A leader must be truthful and transparent with their followers. Your team members will be willing to go the extra mile for you if they trust you and in the vision of the organisation.
Give Before You Take
There is a saying that leaders eat last. This means that leaders put their team’s concerns and needs before their own. As a leader you need to give much more to your organisation than you take out. Think of your team as a unit: if one drops the ball, the whole team loses out. Make sure everyone is fed and satisfied first because you’re in the position to be strong and eat last.
Never Stop Learning
Usually, to become a leader, you have to be an expert in your domain. Your team will be looking to you for your guidance and knowledge. You can’t let this get to your head and let yourself believe you know everything. The best leaders never stop learning. Be receptive to everyone’s perceptions and information from around the world and beyond.