What do I mean about leaders and followers? The care of those you lead must always take priority over your own wellbeing. As a leader your primary goal is to accomplish your mission, but the welfare of your followers is your second priority. After all, without followers you are not a leader.
A leader influences followers to become leaders themselves and to perform more productively. A leader should help people to develop a greater sense of achievement and establish a sense of ownership. Achieving this requires positive people skills, such as understanding what motivates people and what enables them to accomplish given tasks and knowing how to keep them loyal.
The leader must understand, as Napoleon Hill did, that no successful individual becomes a success by himself or herself or by any accomplishment that one can make alone. Hill discovered through his research that everyone who becomes a success does so with the help of others.
Ken Blanchard says “no one of us is as smart as all of us”. Everyone who's ever made it to the top has at some time benefit from the contribution of someone else into their life. Woodrow Wilson put it in this way: “I not only use all of my brains but all that I can borrow”. Without that support, greatness and success become illusionary.
I've known this in my own experience. I love to write books. However, typing is not one of my great strengths. To get to where I'm going, I need the assistance of others; people who are skilled in areas different to me.
This is the principle of synergy in operation: the sum total of our gifts and talents, working together, is greater than each and every individual part. Synergy is imperative in leadership, and good leaders know how to foster it. We need leaders and followers.
Good leadership attracts others. Once leaders have attracted people, however, they must continually develop their skills, both to keep followers following and to launch them further. This means one of the greatest attributes a leader must have, is influence.
No successful individual becomes a success by himself or herself.
Leaders help people work together for mutual benefit. Followers help leaders to reach goals, and, in doing so, leaders empower followers to reach their own goals. There is an exciting mutual dynamic at work. How do you get people to follow you and how do you develop them, so they keep following and eventually become leaders themselves?
Here I want to outline some vital principles of relational leadership based on three key concepts direction, significance and its effect and growing big people.
One of the most important principles in achieving long-term, successful leadership is establishing direction. If you know and understand where you are going, people will follow you. It is sensible, therefore, to establish clear, concise direction.
Make sure your direction is measurable, consistent, and achievable. Leadership is about taking people toward, and eventually arriving at, a destination predetermined by you. It is not about setting people up for failure.
Leaders who change direction constantly confuse their followers. Directionless leadership is no leadership at all. People cannot follow leaders who don't know where they are going.
But leaders who know where they are going enlist and keep quality people. Leaders must keep ahead of those following – But keep in view, too. Followers need to sense a strong, consistent direction.
I recall recently driving behind a friend in another vehicle. He knows every shortcut in the city, but he has a lead foot, and in peak hour traffic he is very hard to follow – especially when you don't know which way he is going to turn. Thank the dear Lord for cellular phones!
The point of this analogy is to reiterate again: you must let people know where you are taking them. Thomas a Stewart said this in fortune magazine: “a prime reason leaders fail is that they rise to power with no understanding or training and how to use it.” You are in charge to provide direction – make sure you do.
In my own experience as leader of a large organisation, I build strong leadership by setting clear direction. As a result, our organisation has risen to new levels of success, achievement, innovation, and creativity. My leadership team is composed of good people who understand our direction. Setting direction is not about talking but about genuine training. Soldiers are not talked into fighting readiness they are trained. They have hands-on experience and learn by doing.
Know, Grow and Show a Leader
John Maxwell has written a wonderful book, Developing The Leaders Around You. He writes, “It takes a leader to know a leader, grow a leader, and show a leader.”
Leadership is about taking people toward, and eventually arriving at,
a destination predetermined by you.