The power of a leader lies in the follower. Without followers, leadership doesn’t exist. How to best create a following is a key to effective leadership.
How can you create followership? What are some strategies you can employ to create followers? Here are a few to consider to strengthen your ability to lead:
Don’t mistake authority for leadership. Sure, you can force people to follow you, but that’s not leadership. Leadership is more about influencing people to voluntarily follow you. If you have to use coercion or manipulation to gain followers it will be a short lived experience. Place yourself in a situation where people will want to follow you, not because they have to follow you.
Provide value to your followers. To value something is to judge the worth or importance of something or someone. What kind of value do you provide? Do you offer good mentorship, personal development and career skills training? Is compensation for work meeting or exceeding industry standards? Do you provide a positive work environment? What is your value proposition to your followers? Do they know what it is? Did you communicated it to them in a manner in which they understand it?
Provide a positive work environment. People will want to be a part of you depending on how you make them feel. Here are a few questions: How do people feel in your presence? Do they fear you? Do you intimate them? Are you over critical? Are you friendly? Are you approachable? Are you welcoming? Are you appreciative? Assess your positivity quotient.
“So of cheerfulness, or good temper, the more it is spent the more it remains.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Lead by example. What are the qualities of a leader you’d like to follow? What behaviors do you want your followers to perform? Make a list. Practice those. If you are in a leadership role and you do not practice what you preach don’t be surprised when people stop following you. Nothing can destroy leadership faster than saying one thing and doing another. Show them how to perform work, jump in the trenches when needed to support them.
Practice mutual respect. It is known that when you give respect you often get it in return. Show respect to your followers. Talk with them, not at them. Talk up to them, not down at them. Give them your time without distraction. Listen to their opinions and needs. Give them the appreciation they deserve. Also be mindful of your tone of voice and body language as to not inadvertently convey messages that are unintentional. Remember to maintain a respectful and calm voice. Additionally, avoid crossing your arms, nod to display you are listening and maintain eye contact.
“You may order and drive an individual, but you cannot make him respect you.” William Hazlitt
Continue to build trust. The best way to break trust is by lying to the people you lead. Being honest with people is the best policy. Having hidden agendas or keeping your team in the dark fosters bitterness and animosity. Let open and honest communication flow between you and the people you lead.
Practice a few of these proven ways to effectively create followers as a leader.
Best of success to you!