I saw this question on a LinkedIn post recently and felt it was aptly stated. Would you follow, yourself?
Leadership and followership have been discussed in many books, articles, and seminars. There is not a “one size fits all” definition but here are some quotes about leadership assembled by Kevin Kruse, CEO of LEADx:
- “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” – John Maxwell
- “You manage things; you lead people.” – Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
- “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” – Max DePree
- “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch
- “A leader is a dealer in hope.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
- “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” —Peter Drucker
- “You don’t need a title to be a leader.” – Multiple Attributions
As you ponder the question about “would you follow yourself,” assessing the attributes that you admired in the best leaders that you have worked with or for is a good place to start.
Here are my thoughts on the subject:
- Integrity is my number one attribute. This pairs nicely with honesty as “table stakes” for any leadership discussion. I have only worked with a few people over the years that I would describe as not having high integrity or honesty and it was not a pleasant experience.
- Trust is a two-way street attribute that needs to be earned, and if not present can create anxiety at all levels of the company. Having the best interests of the organization at the core of every decision being made is an important way to establish this attribute.
- Curiosity in my mind is best described as the ability to be able to “look around the corner” and ask questions about the future that others overlook. It also means looking for other perspectives than your own especially those in direct opposition.
- Empathy or caring is important for a leader at any level but especially one at the top of the organization. Do you care about the success of your company, customers, and people? They will “feel” how much you care and trust you even more.
- Self-confidence is imperative especially in high-risk situations. Would you follow someone who says “I think we need to take that hill” vs. “we need to take that hill because others are counting on us?” Nuff said.
- Relationship builder defines someone who builds a network of individuals and closely aligns with curiosity and empathy. The most adroit at this attribute build strong and lasting mutually beneficial bonds that can best be described as “they will be there for you when you need them most.” Nothing is more demoralizing than someone who reaches out only when they need something from you.
The point of the title of this blog is to get you to think about yourself as a leader from the perspective of others. That is not always a comfortable exercise but worthwhile in making you a much better executive and leader. I would like to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.