What followers want Part 2 L053

Hard on the heals of the hugely successful ‘Now discover your strengths’ by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O Clifton, there have been the usual follow on books that develop the original ideas further. If you have never done the original Strengthsfinder test, I recommend the book, in which you get a one time code to access the test on line. The concept of discovering and playing to your strengths is massively important to our leadership. The truth is we are all so different and need to understand how our strengths feed into our leadership. This particular theme is more fully unpacked in ‘Strength-based leadership’ by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie – you can also do the Strengthsfinder test from this book.

In the same book Tom Rath also give his explanation of why people follow. He comes up with a slightly different list to the one I quoted in the last leadership blog. His research showed that the 4 things that most people most wanted were: trust, compassion, stability, and hope

An interesting mixture of relational, organizational and inspirational.

Trust clearly is the foundation of all positive human relationships. Without it suspicion festers, communication breaks down, and it’s not long before conflict rears its ugly head. Trust allows the follower to give their best without having to second-guess motives and agendas. Trust if formed over time by honesty and integrity, and quite simply by proving to be trustworthy. While it may take months or even years to form a foundation of trust, it can be destroyed in moments. Guard it well!

Compassion is the human side of leadership. It is the face that says ‘it’s not only about results’. It says ‘it’s also about you as a person’. Compassion is not only willing to give second chance and help the person overcome personal obstacles that are affecting their work, but it also looks to develop the person, their gifts, their character and their leadership potential. We grow in compassion through looking for the gold within the person and not just the performance without. We set ourselves the goal of mining and exposing that gold. We ask ourselves the question ‘what’s going on in that person’s life that could explain that unexpected behavior?’ We remember our own failings and refuse to jump to conclusions. As Stephen Covey says ‘we seek first to understand before being understood’

Stability is important for everyone we are leading, whether it’s in the workplace, in our community or in our volunteer team. Everyone needs to know what the ground rules are, what is expected of them, and how they will be treated. They want to know that their contribution is going to be of lasting value. They want to know that the job / church / leader will still be there in 12 months time. Being clear, being consistent and being communicative all help create a sense of stability. Ensuring that there is long term plan, and a strategy to see goals and dreams fulfilled will generate a feeing of confidence and stability.

Hope is perhaps the most elusive of qualities that followers look for from those who lead, but in my opinion will mark the difference between a leader and a manger. A leader is someone who has seen the future and is motivated to take others with her. They may not know exactly how everything will work out, but they have a conviction that it is worth pursuing and can be reached. Hope inspires and motivates others to give of their best, to persevere, to overcome setbacks, and endure hardship. Hope is the oxygen of a team and its efforts.
If you don’t have a vision for the future of your team, your department, your community or your direct reports, then start to dream, use your imagination, look at potential, ask yourself or God ‘what could the future look like?’ You may be amazed at what you start to see!

The great thing for me about these qualities of leadership is that none of them are beyond the reach of any of us. Start to think how you could develop these with those you lead and enjoy the journey.

This entry was posted by nic on Friday, January 6th, 2012 at 11:10 am and is filed under Leadership. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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