How To Play a Real Game of Follow the Leader
Follow the leader is a game many of us played when we were children. The rules are simple: do what the leader does or get kicked out of the game. The last person standing wins, and they become the new leader. Sounds simple, sounds like fun…when you’re a kid!
You grow up, go to school, and start disliking what those in leadership positions tell you. As a result of not following them, you may be kicked out of the game or put into some form of timeout or punishment.
You graduate, get a job, and find that some of your leaders became leaders for all the wrong reasons. Maybe they were the last one standing or the one who survived all of the past leadership changes. Maybe they play the political game well or they are the heir to the throne in a family business. For whatever reason, they are poor leaders and you struggle to follow. But, you continue to work hard, deliver results, and eventually you are promoted. You are now the leader!
Nobody is Following The Leader
The only problem is nobody showed you how to lead or how to be a leader. So you continue doing what you did that made you a successful individual contributor (IC). You push, drive, control, micro-manage the business and now the people. It should work, because it worked as an IC, but it does not! You turn around and there is no one there. No one is following you because nobody wants to play your version of the game.
You become frustrated, you tell your team what to do, but they don’t do it. When they do what you say, they don’t do it the way you want them to. They don’t seem to be playing nice in the sandbox.
You can blame your people, you can make it their fault, you can label them poor performers, poor listeners, or say they are unmotivated. You might kick some of them off the team or put them in a timeout on a Performance Improvement Plan.
For the life of you, you can’t understand why they don’t get you or your way of doing things. They don’t align with your beliefs, your culture, your style, your temperament, your passion, your intention, and they could care less about your 25 previous success stories.
Maybe the reason they are not getting you…is because are not getting them!
More than likely, the biggest reason they don’t follow you is because you believe being a leader is all about you! You can say you are all about your people, that you are a servant leader, but the truth is you are self-centered and egocentric.
People Need Reasons to Follow You
People will follow you when you give them some pretty damn good reasons why they should. They want to follow a leader, and the reason they don’t is your problem, not theirs.
Your team needs to know you respect, appreciate, and see the value they bring to the organization. They need to know you have their backs.
That’s what Extraordinary Leaders do!
Five Things All Leaders Want & How to Get Them
Below is a list of five things leaders want (need) from their people. Ironically, these are the same five things your people want (need) from their leader.
There is an old saying that if you want something from others, you must first give it away. This the Law of Reciprocity. It is simple, but it is not easy. Not easy, because it requires you to drop the ego and self-centeredness, and practice humility.
Here’s the list:
- If you want people to listen…listen to them first.
- If you want people to trust you…trust them first.
- If you want people to value you…first value them.
- If you want people to be honest with you…be honest with them first.
- If you want people to respect you…respect them first.
These also happen to be what most people want (need) in every relationship, both personally and professionally!
Reflection: Are you honestly willing to first give to others what you want for yourself? Are you willing to give to others in your actions and not just your words?
If you answered “yes” to both of the questions above, you might just be ready to play a real game of Follow The Leader.
If not, you might just find yourself in a bad game of Kick-the-Can…and it just might be your can that gets kicked!