Follow the leader isn’t just a children’s game. It’s a fact of life.
People really do follow the leader. They do what the leader does. They behave as the leader behaves. They act the way the leader acts.
They don’t very often do what the leader says, unless of course what the leader says is the same thing the leader does. As a leader, who you are makes a difference. The most important message you can share is yourself. Your people watch you constantly, they are watching to determine if you’re the type of leader they can trust.
Here’s the most basic leadership equation of all: trust = follower-ship. Where there is no trust there can be no true following. True following comes from commitment and while a leader’s position may get them the compliance of their people only trust can earn commitment.
If a leader isn’t trusted by their people then don’t be surprised when the people aren’t trusted by the leader. People really do follow the leader.
Everything a leader says and does either adds to or subtracts from their “credibility bank.” Almost nothing is credibility neutral, everything matters. Authentic leaders know that and work to make certain that their words match their actions as much as possible.
Let me say this as clearly as I can; if your credibility sinks low enough you may have a title or position of leadership but you’re not leading anymore. You can’t be leading because people can’t follow a leader with low credibility. If you have no followers then you’re not leading no matter what your business card might say.
People do follow the leader but only if that leader is a person they can trust. If you can’t pass the trust test then all your leadership efforts will come up short. Your vision will never be realized, your influence will be limited, and your success will be in doubt.
If you want to be a leader that people will follow then don’t work for a position or title that people will “have to” follow. Instead work to become the type of person they will want to follow.
Be the type of person they can trust!