There has been much research done about leadership – what it means to be a leader, what characteristics leaders possess, what sets good leaders apart, etc. Much time, effort, and money has been spent defining the word leader. There is a simple definition of a leader that gets right to the heart of leadership: A leader is someone who has followers.
With that stated, there are good leaders and bad leaders, servant leaders, transformational leaders, visionary leaders, positional leaders, bureaucratic leaders, empowering leaders, dictator leaders, and the list goes on! In the end, what all types of leaders have in common is simply that they have followers. But what makes someone follow?
Gallup conducted a fascinating study where they interviewed more than 10,000 followers around the world to ask exactly why they followed the most important leader in their life. Here are the key themes (or basic needs) that emerged:
- Trust (other words cited by followers included: honesty, integrity, and respect)
- Compassion (other words cited by followers included: caring, friendship, happiness, and love)
- Stability (other words cited by followers included: security, strength, support, and peace)
- Hope (other words cited by followers included: direction, faith, and guidance)
Take some time to reflect on your leadership style and ponder these questions.
- Are you honest and forthright? Can you be trusted? Are you a person of your word? Are you respectful of other people’s ideas and beliefs, even when they are drastically different from your own?
- Do you care about other people, their feelings, and their struggles? Do you show compassion? Are you a good friend?
- Are you steady and unwavering in your values? Are you strong when faced with adversity? How well do you handle conflict and confrontation? How do you support and encourage your followers?
- Do you have hope for your future? Are you optimistic about life? Do you believe in people? Do you believe in yourself? Do you know your life’s purpose?
If you don’t often think about your leadership style in terms of what your followers see, hear, feel, and believe to be true, perhaps this new perspective can be a way to take your leadership to the next level.