Many consider themselves a leader just because of their job title or the number of followers they have on social media sites, but when it comes time to gather a team to trudge through a tough situation they look back to see that there are no people behind them. It takes some exclusive characteristics to be able to inspire others to follow you through dire straits. Here is a list of 6 qualities that leaders need to develop to inspire other real people to follow them.
People tend to show their true character during times of hardship or panic. I have met managers, business owners, and even spiritual leaders who become extremely pessimistic and unkind when times become difficult. These types of people are leaders in title only and typically do not keep their teams on board for very long. Leaders who are worth following remain constant and instill confidence in those who surround themselves whether in good times or bad. They create an atmosphere that instills hope and gives everyone around them the feeling that “We’re all in this together.” By their positivity, leaders show those present that they can rise above the current predicament and see a bright future worth fighting for. If you can continue marching toward your goals with stability even in arduous instances people will follow you.
“Praise publicly, criticize privately.”
While a lack of integrity or the blatant disregard of others can put an organization at immediate risk and should seldom be tolerated, there can be tremendous power in utilizing graciousness when handling the mistakes and missteps of others who you work around. Regardless of the severity of a co worker’s mistake, it is always best for those who want to be regarded as leaders to never hold a grudge. Forgiveness and public graciousness is always the best course of action in all arenas, but particularly in the workplace. I can think of multiple occasions where I have been at the mercy of someone whom I had wronged or disappointed, but luckily allowed me to fix the problem and move on. I appreciated their understanding and the opportunity to make it right. They allowed me to learn a valuable lesson on how NOT to do something and kept me around to continue doing my job. I hope that you can think of a similar time during your career. People will work harder for those who have shown grace during instances that would warrant lecture or dismissal.
It can be tough to think of being inspiring when all any of us see ourselves doing could be considered desk jockeying all day. Leaders must be risk takers! Leaders have to think BIG! Leaders have to trail blaze! You don’t have to organize a skydiving trip as a “teambuilding activity.” Maybe you could approach a problem nobody has been willing to tackle. What ideas could you present now that others are afraid of mentioning? Could you present a new benefits package for the team to your boss to attract a higher level of talent? Could you create an automated system to streamline workflow? Think on what your team or organization is currently doing as opposed to what they could be doing. Why aren’t you reaching your full potential? Is it that nobody is willing to go the extra mile to create a better process or procedure? If so, step up to the plate and do it! People will get in line behind those who are willing to meet the challenge nobody else is brave enough to confront.
The best leaders think of others first and themselves second. We have to be sure that the needs of those around us are met in order to achieve the goals we intend to accomplish with their help. I like to relate this idea to a ground army. If a general were to ensure that his army is well fed, well equipped, and retains high moral they will fight more efficiently and with greater conviction than if the ranks were starving, unarmed, and miserable. How do those who you hope to attract as followers view your concern for their well being? Are you doing what is best for your team and those around you? If so, do they know it? Make it known that you have their best interest at heart. Pass their wins up the ladder. Praise them publicly and give them credit for their ideas. You win by giving your team wins.
Have you ever known someone who seems to always have something that they are hiding? I know that I have and it drives me crazy. The majority of people do not like working around (much less taking orders from) someone who always seems to have something up their sleeve. An effective leader clearly communicates to those around them where they stand on issues and to not convey secrecy or misrepresentation. Leaders do not sell pipe dreams or make false threats to increase productivity. People like to know the direction that they are headed and do not appreciate mystery or uncertainty when their time or livelihood are at stake. If I were to put this in a fortune cookie it would say “transparency builds a straight road to success while deceit paves a winding path to disorder.”
So here it is. This is the one many of us struggle with the most. It can be difficult to convey confidence in your choices when you are in a leadership position because you know that other people are affected by the outcomes. The best leaders show poise, cool-headedness, and self-belief while making concrete decisions. It can be particularly difficult for young people in leadership because of the amount of self-doubt and the feeling of not being experienced enough to make the tough calls but remember this: we are only in leadership positions because we are willing to make the decisions nobody else is willing to make. Do the best you can with the options you have available and explain your reasoning to those who ask. Your people may not always agree with the decision you make, but if you make the call with conviction and openly communicate your assessments of the situation they will respect your judgment.
If you develop the qualities in this list, people will gladly follow your lead through almost any situation. Always be sure that you show your team that you are willing to accept the consequences (good or bad) with them and remember to only point people in positive directions.
Your integrity is paramount