Good leaders follow.
Ask any Army general or Navy admiral. They would not have risen through the military ranks had they not been able to follow orders.
Business coach Andy Bailey, with the firm Petra, talked about leaders who follow in the Oct. 20, 2013, edition of The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville. His column says leaders are empathetic, show vulnerability and grow other leaders.
Unless you are a dictatorial leader, who tries to advance while holding others down, good leaders can’t exist without a great team, Bailey says.
Other leadership experts, like John Maxwell, also talk about vulnerable leaders. In his “5 Levels of Leadership,” Maxwell points out that vulnerability helps make leaders genuine. A good leader doesn’t have to know everything. He has to be able to find the people on his team who know more about a given subject than he does, and allow them to lead in that area.
As we grow as people, we learn that not knowing everything about everything is OK. Did you ever have a neighbor, friend or relative who could rattle off a lot of knowledge about anything and everything? Did you like being around this person? Sometime, you may have had to borrow a cup of sugar from this person, but that turned into an hour or longer conversation. He did most of the talking.
Good leaders are humble. They admit not knowing things, and they admit when they make mistakes. It’s part of the relationship the leader is building with his team.
Remember, too, that one does not necessarily have to have a high position or high authority to be a leader. He just needs to have influence. The difference between power and influence is that influence allows you to get people to do things for you willingly, instead of by force.
Good leaders, as Maxwell points out, have great relationships with each on his team. This relationship is cultivated without having to be “soft,” and unable to make hard decisions.
We’ve all worked for dictatorial leaders at some point. You don’t dare offer suggestions, or talk about any difficulties in getting a job done with that person. He doesn’t listen, and doesn’t care how difficult things are for you. He has no empathy. He’s working for his own success, and is using you to get what he wants.
Today’s leaders engage in the messy process of developing people, as Maxwell points out. Developing good relations with people is a deliberative process. First, the leader has to be likeable, though he doesn’t expect EVERYONE to like him. For some, becoming likeable is a messy process. For others, it comes naturally.
A wise person once said that people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care (about them). Good leaders care about their people first. The other things usually fall into place once that happens.
Want to be a good, empathetic leader but don’t have a team? Visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau and learn how to find, and build, a great team. You may not know who will be on your team ultimately, but if you follow the leadership guidelines that Bailey, Maxwell and others espouse, you’ll have a great time building your team, and growing as a person yourself.
Good leaders follow.