Authentic Followership

Your title may sound impressive. Your title may come with a substantial income. Your title may gain you entry into elite places and even get you VIP treatment in some of those places. 

 

But what your title doesn’t do is make you a leader. 

 

All the same things can be said about the position you hold within your organization. Even positions at the very top of an organization aren’t truly leadership positions unless the person who occupies the position makes the effort required to lead. 

 

People don’t follow positions or titles. People follow people. 

 

The absolute number one leadership mistake a person can make is believing that their title or position makes them a leader. Titles and positions can make you a boss but only authentic followers can make you a leader. 

 

What I mean by “authentic follower” is a person who is committed to you personally. They realize that you care about them and have their interests in mind with just about every decision you make. 

 

An inauthentic follower is someone below or behind you in the organization that “complies” with your directives. They only comply because they fear the consequences if they don’t. You might believe they are following but when you need them you turn around and see that they aren’t really there.

 

If you’re someone who has the audacity to label themselves a leader then their lack of commitment is on you, not them. Perhaps you believed they “had” to follow you because you hold a position above them in the organization. 

 

That belief is likely the second biggest leadership mistake a person can make. NO ONE can be forced to follow you. Authentic Followership requires a commitment on the part of the follower AND the leader. You can’t force anyone to commit to you. 

 

If you want Authentic Followership then you’ll need to practice Authentic Leadership. That means demonstrating that you care about your people. That means keeping your lines of communication open and crystal clear. It means understanding that you’re responsible not only for your own success but for the success of the people you lead as well.

 

If you’re an Authentic Leader you’re even more excited when one of your followers excel than you are when you excel yourself. If you’re an Authentic Leader you have a vision to share with potential followers. That vision includes benefits for those who become Authentic Followers. 

 

If you’re an Authentic Leader there is little doubt that you have Authentic Followers. When you count on your title or position to earn you followers then it may appear as if you’re leading but when you turn around you’ll see there is nobody there.


If you’re wondering if you’re an Authentic Leader there is an easy way to find out….ask the people you think are following you. If they struggle to provide you with ready answers then it’s likely you have some work left to do. You will need to change your ways if you want to add Authentic Leader to whatever title you’ve been using to gain the compliance of your people. 

Are You a Proud Sales Professional?

The most successful salespeople are proud to be in sales. They know that any profit making business requires sales to survive. Everything in business may not begin with sales but it certainly ends without them. Every advancement a company makes is made from the revenue delivered by the sales team. Every person employed by the company is paid from the profits produced by the sales team.

 

The most successful salespeople also know that they do not succeed alone. The best salespeople work well with other departments in their company, particularly the customer service department. They use the knowledge and experience of other salespeople to compliment their own. They do all this with the goal of providing the customer with the best possible buying experience.

 

The most successful salespeople are not only proud to be in sales, they are proud to sell their products and services. They make the effort required to build a realistic value proposition for the customer. They relentlessly defend that value proposition against the weaker value propositions of their competitors. Their goal is not merely to sell more, it is to help more.

 

They help their customers understand their needs. They help their customers acquire the products they need to achieve their goals and objectives. They help make certain that their customers receive every bit of the value they expected to receive when they made the decision to purchase. 

 

Professional salespeople guard their integrity as if it were gold because they know that it is in fact golden. They will not misrepresent themselves or their products and they will not, will not, will not lie to a customer or a prospect. 

 

Professional salespeople are indeed proud to be in sales. They arm themselves with the skills and knowledge required to be the best, day after day and month after month. They believe in continuous improvement and they know that improvement begins with them. 

 

Does that sound like you? If not then don’t be disappointed with yourself. Each one of the characteristics of a professional salesperson is within your reach. You must decide to possess them and then get to work to make them a part of your own DNA. 


You can do that, the only question that remains is, will you?

All Progress is Progress

Have you ever set a goal and immediately been overwhelmed with the enormity of it? Have you ever been assigned a task at work and were instantly overcome with the feeling of complete paralysis because you had no idea where to start? 

 

Are you a chronic procrastinator or have you convinced yourself you perform better under pressure? 

 

If any of that sounds like you then I have some advice for you. It is something that all successful people know and it is how they work their way past the challenges associated with achieving success. 

 

The advice is to remember that all progress is progress. Even little steps move you forward. Even small accomplishments move you closer to an ultimate goal. You do not need major progress at every turn. Slow steady progress often achieves success faster than the backward movement that can follow rapid progress. 

 

A few small steps forward are almost always better than two steps forward and one step back. Any movement closer to an objective or goal is progress. All progress is worthy of celebration, albeit the smaller the progress the smaller the celebration. 

 

Some of the very best advice I’ve ever received was that when you  don’t know what to do just do the next right thing. No matter how small that next right thing is you will end up closer to your goal. 

 

You’ll find it easier, notice I didn’t say easy, to consistently make progress if you have a coach or mentor to help you stay motivated. A good mentor can talk you down from the cliff of self-doubt that everyone finds themselves on from time to time. 

 

Sometimes small amounts of progress can be hard to see. Be sure to keep track of where you started. Keep track of where you were last month or last week so you can see your forward movement. Nothing will kill your future motivation faster than thinking you received nothing from your past efforts. 

 

Keep yourself fresh by trying something new once in a while. The most successful people will get rid of something that works if there is a chance to replace it with something that works even better. You never know if you can do something better until you try doing it differently. 

 

Whatever you do you must do something. You must keep moving…even if you’re on the right track you will eventually get run over if you just sit there. All progress is progress. Forward, sideways and sometimes even backwards progress is better than no progress at all. 

 

You don’t need to know how the final chapter of a book ends before you begin reading it. You also don’t need to know exactly how you will complete a task or achieve a goal before you start working towards it. 

 

Make progress each day and the end result will come into focus along the way. All those little bits of progress will lead you to one giant success once you realize that indeed, all progress is progress! 

Is the Drinkin’ Doing Your Thinkin’?

This is the kind of post that shouldn’t even need to be written anymore but sadly there are still some people who just don’t “get it.” I also don’t want to sound like I’m “preaching” here so please understand I’m not using a “holier than thou” voice while I’m writing this. 

 

We can best sum up the post like this: Getting hammered at company and industry events just ain’t what it used to be. Actually, getting hammered anywhere and any time isn’t too cool anymore. 

 

Drinking to excess over long periods of time wrecks lives. It just does. If you have convinced yourself otherwise then you may need some help because it’s likely that your drinking is doing at least some of your thinking. 

 

While drinking over a long period of time wrecks lives it takes only a single night of slamming back shots to destroy a career. In fact professionally speaking almost nothing can ruin a career faster. 

 

I’m not looking to be a killjoy. It is possible to keep the good times rolling AND minimize the chance of becoming company or industry folklore for years to come.

     

If you have a work/social situation coming up where you’d prefer not to avoid alcohol altogether then consider slowing your pace of drinking. Alternate your drinks with soda or water throughout the event or eat more food and consume drinks or beer with less alcohol.  

 

Here’s a couple of alcohol quick facts to consider:

  • Generally… one 12-ounce beer = one 5-ounce glass of wine = 1.5 ounces of liquor (80 proof)
  • Wine usually has an alcohol content of 12 – 16%
  • Beer in most cases, has an alcohol content of 3.2 – 7%
  • As little as 1 – 2 drinks in one hour can impair an individual’s ability to drive and think clearly (depending on weight and alcohol content)
  • Only time can sober up someone

If you’re thinking “you can handle” your liquor “better” than the next person that’s the drinkin’ doing your thinkin’. 

 

If you think you “can make it home” without the cops stopping you that’s the drinkin’ doing your thinkin’. (Besides the cops are the least of your problems, killing someone else or yourself is where your concern should be)

 

If you think no one will notice your altered behavior then that’s your drinkin’ doing your thinkin’. Maybe you should ask to see the videos….yes, everyone has a video camera these days. 

 

If you think your colleagues or coworkers won’t be talking behind your back the next day that is your drinkin’ doing your thinkin’ BIG TIME! 


Your character is always on display. Think about that and try to remember, if there’s too much drinkin’ then there is almost certainly too little thinkin’. 

Do You Know the “Needs” of Your Business?

I used to work for a guy who when it came time to allocate resources would always ask the same question… is that a “need to do” or a “nice to do?” 

 

It didn’t make any difference if the resource being allocated was time, people, money or a combination of the three the question was usually the same. It always made me stop and think. 

 

What I discovered was that for any business or organization relatively few things are a “need to do.” There are some activities that are vital for success. Things like investing in future products, excelling at what should be your core competencies, preparing the organization’s next generation of leaders, and building long-term meaningful customer relationships based on trust are a few of the key “need to do” items.

 

If you’re wondering what some of the “nice to do” things might be let me sum it up like this…if it is not “need to do” then it is “nice to do.” Most things businesses and organizations do are nice to do. They may not have a long-term impact but they “seem” productive and oh by the way, they are usually easier to do than the “need to do” things.

 

I have no problem with anyone doing the “nice to do” things that can sometimes be described as “the little extra” that customers love. I have no problem so long as the “nice” things aren’t done at the expense of or instead of the “need” things. 

 

For instance, let’s say you run a car wash and a “nice” to do is giving every customer a free air freshener as they enter the car wash. The customers seem to appreciate the air fresheners but they do not appreciate the fact that their cars are returned to them dirty. 

 

If you’re running a car WASH then getting the car clean would seem to me to be a core competency. Air fresheners are nice but I can’t imagine a car wash customer that wouldn’t trade that for a clean car. 

 

Every time you make a decision to take action in your business or organization you should ask yourself is this a “need to do” or a “nice to do?” I cannot imagine a single “nice” that would ever take precedence over a “need.” At least not if you intend to be successful.

 

Of course you also must be honest with yourself about what the “needs” really are. I’ve been known to convince myself that a “nice” was a “need” simply because I wanted to do it. 


I try to think of it like this: nothing can be nice until the needs are taken care of. Adding up all the “nice” you could possibly do will not outweigh a single “need.” That’s why it’s so important that you know the true “needs” of your organization. 

Back to School

It is that time of year again when the youngsters head back to school for another season of learning. There are advertisements  everywhere touting “back to school” specials on everything from clothing to pencils. I’m surprised by how much stuff kids need to go to school these days, it’s an incredibly expensive investment for parents. 

 

Sadly I hear it’s a very expensive investment for teachers as well because too many of them need to supplement school budgets with their own dollars. That’s terrible but that’s also not the focus of this post.

 

The focus of this post is on the learning that takes place as a result of “being in school.” School is after all the place where kids and young adults go to learn. Whether it’s kindergarten or a graduate school program as long as someone is in school the teaching, and hopefully the learning, never stops. 

 

But what about when you’re done with school? What happens when you’ve graduated and moved on? What happens when there are no more “school years” and you have years that are a full 12 months? Year after year.

 

Well, for many people the learning stops when school stops. The most successful people however know that learning must never stop. They understand that failing to continuously learn most often leads to continual failure. I’d actually say that failing to learn is the leading cause of personal failure. 

 

Years ago when I was selling Dale Carnegie Training I would see people on an almost daily basis who were unwilling to pay to take a course. They wanted to take it but would only attend if their employer would foot the bill. 

 

They were unwilling to invest in their own future but they had no problem expecting someone else to invest for them. 

 

What about you? Are you willing to invest in yourself? Willing enough to go “back to school” regardless of your age, stature in your organization or your past success? 

 

I know this next statement sounds a bit like a cliche but it is 100% true…the most successful people, in any walk of life, never stop learning. Never!

 

Those most successful people know that “school” isn’t a place, it is a mindset. They find learning experiences everywhere and from everyone. They also set aside time for more formal learning experiences. They take both traditional classes and online classes. They attend conferences to learn and many of them have mentors to help them identify their learning opportunities. They regularly invest in themselves. 

 

Look around and keep your eyes and your mind open. You’ll see “school” all around you. It has never been easier to find people and experiences that can help you expand your potential. But you have to want to learn. 

 

When you have the desire to learn no one can stop you. If you don’t have the desire to learn no one can help you. You can skip the stores and back to school supplies but if you want to achieve your full potential you cannot skip the learning. 


I think I hear a bell ringing….must be time to head to class. See you there!

Where Passion Comes From

I enjoy seeing and working with people who are passionate about what they do. Their passion and the enthusiasm it creates is contagious.

 

Passion can be a twin-edged sword however when it’s allowed to overflow into emotional outbursts. You should never use your passion as an excuse for losing control of your emotions. I’ve often heard people apologize by saying, “sorry I got upset and yelled, it’s just that I’m passionate about this.” When passion becomes an excuse it loses its power to make things happen.

 

But overall, I love passion. When people are passionate about what they do it shows in how they do it. Passionate people are the ones who make a positive difference in the lives of other people. It’s by making that difference that they make the world a better place too.

 

Passion comes from knowing. Do not expect people to be passionate about the things they know little or nothing about.

 

That little piece of advice in the last sentence helps keep me from being overly frustrated when working with people who don’t give a darn about their work, their company, their customers or their coworkers. 

 

They have never invested the time required to develop the empathy that comes from knowing other points of view. They have empathy for what they know and they only know themselves. 

 

While it’s frustrating to work with people who don’t care, especially when you do, you can’t make the mistake of allowing their lack of passion to suck the passion out of you. 

 

You will need to “re-dream your dream” from time to time. Consider where your passion originally came from and revisit that place often. 


Never lose your passion for what you do and the positive affect it has on people. Remember that when the positive passion goes out the door your positive attitude won’t be far behind.