4 Reasons People Follow

Why do people follow? More importantly, why would people follow you?

With the end of the first half of the year looming, if you haven’t asked yourself this question recently, it’s a good time to do so as you work on refining your plans.

Great leadership involves many factors but one of the most important, discovered by the folks at Gallup and written about in “Strengths-based Leadership”, is giving your followers what they need so that they can feel confident and inspired to follow.

“A leader charging forward without followers is just out for a walk,” write Tom Rath and Barry Conshie.

So what do effective leaders give their teams to get them to follow? More importantly, what do followers want from their leaders?

Here’s the four basic needs of followers that Gallup found in their research.

(HINT  – Turn this into a self-development exercise for your team by sending this article to them and ask them the same tough question – why should people follow them?)

  1. Trust – The basis of all solid, well-functioning relationships, the ability to trust a leader is essential to cultivate followers – and the one requirement that successful leaders cannot afford to take for granted. In a high-trust environment, not only is there less organizational “chatter”, but tasks will get done more quickly – with a lot less effort and time. But creating a trusting relationship requires three critical factors according to Robert Shaw, the author of “Trust in the Balance” – it’s not so simple…

To begin with a leader needs to deliver quality results. They need to follow through on business commitments and hold others accountable to their commitments.  Second, a leader needs to demonstrate Integrity. They need to behave in a consistent, reliable manner, be open with information and walk the talk when it comes to ethics and values.  And finally? They need to show a concern for others and promote the well-being of their team members.  And the “twist”? Trust is multiplicative. When any one of these factors is missing, the equation goes to zero.

2. Compassion – People want leaders who care about them as people. According to the Gallup research, when 10,000 employees were asked what great leaders contributed to their lives, they said, “Caring, friendship, happiness and love.” Question 5 on the Gallup survey of employee engagement is, “Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?” Compassion also means that you care enough about people that you have Coaching conversations with them – at least monthly – discussing their goals and their development, providing them with recognition as well as constructive feedback and, holding them accountable to their commitments.  Question 12 on the survey is “This past year have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?”

Plus, when people feel as if someone cares, not only are they more engaged and productive, but they’ll stay around longer – certainly something you want as a leader – especially if you’re talking about an A player!

3. Stability – Security, strength, support and peace.  Those were the words that were used on the surveys that Gallup conducted. People want some sense of stability in their work environment which can be challenging for leaders to provide in chaotic times. But this desire echoes the consistency theme that people need in order to trust and knowing that a leader has a firm grip on the rudder even in the midst of a storm promotes “followership”. Financial stability is a crucial part of this need for security – something that can be provided if leaders choose to be open with their plans and especially if there’s some form of Open Book Management practice in place at the company – even if it’s a work in progress to educate people on the basics of financials so that they can understand what they’re learning.

How are you providing a sense of stability in your company? What information are you sharing to give people confidence about the business and how often are you sharing it?

4. Hope – Finally, followers want to know that there’s a future and a direction for the company. The most engaged employees that Gallup surveyed were the ones that had faith in their leaders’ visions, generating both optimism as well as higher productivity. Without hope, uncertainty and paralysis can take the upper hand. And if you’re only working on the day to day, there’s no time to create a bigger picture for your followers.  This is where the One Page Strategic Plan™ can help you. Having a clear Core Purpose and a Big Hairy Audacious Goal can provide vision and direction to followers.

How are you sharing your vision for the future with your team?  When you have an all hands meeting, do you ask them what they’re hearing? And if you don’t have a vision or if it’s unclear even to you, maybe it’s time to get one!

Give us a call or drop us an email…we’d love to help you create an atmosphere of hope for your team.

And take advantage of our Early Bird Special before next Monday, the 29th of May . Come learn from one of the best leaders I’ve met!

Register to hear Ari Weinzweig, the CEO of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, who will be speaking on the 12 Natural Laws of Business – Solving the Energy Crisis in the American Workforce. Recently named one of the top 10 CEO “Servant Leaders” by Inc Magazine, he’ll be sharing the story behind the tremendous growth of his company. From a small, 25-seat delicatessen over 30 years ago, he and his partner, Paul Saginaw have grown to a dozen different businesses with over $60 million in revenue and employing over 700 people.

For more info or to register, here’s the link:    http://bit.ly/FixTheEnergyCrisis

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