e have certainly entered the “dog days of summer
” here in northern Illinois. Last week you could cut the air with a knife it was so humid. Thankfully, this week has seen some minor relief.
Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock
Water sports are definitely a good call for anyone wanting to stay cool. Water skiing and tubing are a couple of my favorites, although I don’t get to do them very often. However, some of you may remember last year when I cracked four ribs trying to barefoot water ski for the very first time. I prefer to forget
No water skiing or tubing this year, at least not so far. Not even a boat ride. Maybe next week! But that does remind me of an important leadership concept.
What kind of a wake
are you leaving?
As you move the through the waters of other people’s lives in your family, community and workplace, what kind of wake are you leaving? Here are a few questions to consider as you look behind you:
- Are people smiling and laughing? Are people skiing and tubing? Or are there bodies strewn about or floating in the water?
- Is there a growing string of maturing leaders gliding along, or are there medics and chaplains tending to the wounded and dying?
Another way to look at it might be to ask, “What is your personal leadership brand
?” When people hear your name, what images or emotions emerge? Whatever the answer, as with the earlier mentioned items, it has a powerful and defining impact on your ability to truly lead
Some people use fear and intimidation to get what they want from others. In my experience those kind of folks are only likely to get short-term results, if any. Especially as the millennial generation becomes a larger and larger part of the labor force, that kind of behavior will become increasingly ineffective.
There are four
things that people want from those they choose to follow.
Four Essential Qualities
Leadership requires followership. If nobody is following, then you’re not
leading. Following is not something that happens by coercion, but by others choosing.
1. People choose to follow people who know how to follow.
I wish I could take credit for coming up with that, but I have to give credit to my friend, Dr. Jeff Myers
. But, it rings as true to me today as it did the day I first heard it.
I have interviewed hundreds of candidates for my clients over the years, and I often ask, “What are the leadership qualities that you have come to admire?” While no one has used this specific phrase, they have described it to a tee
The number one way people describe it is: someone who won’t ask anyone else to do something they aren’t willing to do themselves. Or, they are very willing to get in the trenches with us and get their hands dirty.
The best way I know how to describe it is by using the word “humility.” They aren’t arrogant nor do they think themselves above others. Jim Collins’ research bore this out as told in his bestselling book, “Good to Great
.” This was the #1 quality of the leaders of the “great” companies.
2. People choose to follow people who care about them.
John Maxwell is famous for saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Caring opens the door to following because when people sense that you genuinely care they feel safe.
When you are confident that someone has your best interest in mind, you don’t feel the need to protect yourself from them. You are much more inclined to entrust yourself to them. That’s ultimately what following is about.
That feels too mushy for some. All I have to say is, “too bad.” That’s the way it is and if you ignore it you’ll be the one who loses in the end. It’s not about being emotional, it’s about having and demonstrating a genuine concern for the needs of others.
One of my favorite books is called, “Leadership and Self-Deception
.” It sums it up this way. Do you think about people as people, or objects? Before you answer too quickly, think about it again.
Other people have needs, wants, hopes, dreams just like you do. Objects are to be used for your own ends. I challenge you to be blisteringly honest about how you really view the other people in your family and at work.
Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock
3. People choose to follow those who provide stability.
People want a smooth ride. They know there’s turbulence ahead, somewhere, sometime. But they are looking for those who are able to ride out the storm and wind up still floating.
There are two things that I think are key here, both about which I have written previously
. The first one is leading with a stable set of core values
. Values drive behavior. Consistency in this area means that people know what to expect from you.
The second one is leading with transparency
. In the absence of information, people tend to assume the negative. That is human nature. You need to supply the storyline or others will write it for you, and it won’t
be pretty. Just think “soap opera,” and you’ll get the idea.
4. People choose to follow those who give them hope.
A friend of mine is fond of saying, “Whoever provides the most hope wins the heart.”
Giving people hope is about showing them the possibilities, painting a picture of a desirable future, and instilling confidence in our ability to get there
Read my previous blog
about how Brooks, Lewis & Clark, Churchill and King Jr., all who faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles, inspired people to follow them all the way to victory.
Following is not something that happens by coercion, but by others choosing.
What Will It Be?
So, what kind of wake are you leaving? When they hear your name, what images and emotions emerge?
You are ultimately in control of how others will consistently answer those questions about you. Decide right now what you want the answers to be and then live and lead like you mean it.
Question: What is one thing you can do today to begin creating the wake you want? [question]leaving-wake[/question]