Blog post originally published on 5/16/2012.
It’s easy to jump into a position of leadership without having a clear understanding of the importance of your followers. If you just asked, “why are my followers so important?” I would imagine your followers may be feeling a bit dissatisfied with your leadership. So here it is, a simple key fact you’ll want to tack onto your core values: While they may take the form of students, employees, or even supporters, your followers are your most important asset! Missing that key component of the leader-follower relationship could be detrimental to your leadership. As has been said in the past, leaders who look over their shoulders and do not see any followers are on a lonely walk!
So what does it look like to understand the importance of your followers? You have to keep their best interest at heart!
Most leaders believe they are making decisions for the betterment of the organization they lead. They would probably say they intend to focus on doing things for the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Whether you’re a department head, CEO or the President of the United States, your decisions are probably made to benefit the whole. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this concept, but what it inevitably does is blur faces and ignores names. If you are to motivate a group of people, they need to know you’re on their side. Not their collective side as a group, but their side as an individual. They need to know you don’t see them as just another cog in your machine but that they are a human soul consciously following you for direction.
Just like in sports, if you’re raising a team up to win, there needs to be interaction between Coach (Leader) and Player (Follower). If the interaction is negative, or even absent for that matter, chances are your players are going to play poorly. If the interaction is positive and consistent, your players will do better. At the same time, if one player does not see why winning is so important or does not care to win, he can really throw a broom in the spokes of your chances at winning.
In the workplace as the leader, you have the power to create synergy through empowerment of your followers. In my next post we’ll tackle some of those empowerment tactics, but for now, let’s talk broadly.
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Imagine you are an employee at a company with big plans. You’ve read in the newspapers about how this company is planning to exponentially increase their revenues over the next several quarters and how investors are lining up to be a part of it all. What you experience in the office on the other hand is a slightly different buzz. You’ve never held a solid conversation with your boss, in fact, he calls you “champ” or “buddy” every time he walks past. You’ve heard his catchphrases about the ladder to success, but you never really see those words backed up by his intentional action. Your coworkers don’t have much of a clue either; they just go with the motions of the daily grind. Where is your motivation as an individual to unite with your coworkers on a road to success? Would anyone even notice if you were there in the first place? This is the danger not keeping your followers’ best interests in mind.
Are you feeling a lack of synergy in your leader-follower relationship? Try evaluating yourself as the leader and digging deep down to answer the question: do I really care about my followers? Come back soon, because I will be publishing Part 2 in a few days.
How do you show your followers you are really interested in them as individuals?
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