What do the leaders you want to follow do well?
Notice the word, want.
There are many leaders in our lives we ‘follow’. After all, we would make our lives hard if we didn’t. But that does not mean we like the way they lead.
Of course, we can choose to leave the companies we work for or the countries we live in (it’s election time), but that’s simply not always an option.
Unless it gets to a level you can’t function anymore as you like and it makes you miserable. Then you need to make a move.
You can’t always choose your leader
For the sake of this conversation, let’s agree that you can’t always choose your leader.
For example, no matter the outcome of the United States’ presidential elections this week, about half of the population will have to ‘live’ with a leader they didn’t choose.
Following the elections, I’m sure we’ll read the stories about people wanting to leave the country. But most never do. Like in 2016. Many talked about it, but most never did. They live with the leader they didn’t vote for.
So who do you really follow, and why?
What do those leaders you follow do that it defines them in your eyes as a great leader?
The answer, for me, is simple.
I follow leaders who can connect what they want to accomplish with what I want to accomplish. And include me in that process.
The keyword here is connect
Allow me to use the current covid-19 health crisis as an example.
The best leaders are those who are connected to what’s happening. They know that they need to be visible to their people, communicate frequently, and do so with empathy.
Here are three differentiating traits these leaders have that make them successful. Not only in times of crisis but also when things are going smoothly.
Because this is who they are.
Great leaders provide clarity
Great leaders understand their context. They are connected to their people and the world around them. They’re transparent about what’s working and what’s not working. They’re honest and don’t hold back. Great leaders can connect the dots and paint a vivid picture of the future. They have a vision and a plan on how to execute on this vision. They provide clarity about direction and performance at all times.
Great leaders are curious
Great leaders want to know what’s going on. Not just in the world around them, in their business, but also with you. They demonstrate a genuine interest in their people. They have mastered the art of asking questions, knowing that this will help them run their business and make people feel included.
Great leaders care
Great leaders care about their people, their other stakeholders, and the world around them. They have a compelling purpose for what they’re doing and can connect their people’s purpose to the overarching purpose. They hold people able because they understand that people will want to do their best and hold themselves accountable in a caring environment.
In times of crisis comes out what people need the most. People are uncertain, scared, and afraid of the future.
They want to know what’s going on, and they want to feel that people care about them and have their best interests in mind.
And if the leaders they follow can’t give them what they need to survive, they want them to be honest and compassionate about it.
That’s why communication and empathy show up as the key things great leaders do right now.
But they were already doing that, rain or shine.
Your turn: what do the leaders you (truly) follow have in common? Do they match these traits? And how would those that follow you rate you on these traits?