But it is the fourth strength - the power to influence - which is the silver bullet. Without the power to influence there are no followers, and without followers you cannot lead.
Well the best place to start is to think about the people you have followed and what moved you to do this. We follow people not because we have to but because we want to. In the words of General Dwight Eisenhower, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – So the big question is how can you influence people to follow you? What do followers want?
Leaders need a vision, a clear picture of where they are headed and a destination in mind, but to be convinced to follow, I need to know the WHY as well as the WHAT. So ask yourself what is your cause, purpose or belief? And here is a clue. It can’t just be about profit, or improving efficiency, these will be by-products of our success; tell me why we must do what you propose. Give me an imperative. Help me to line up behind you and champion your cause. Inspire me.
Next is conviction. I need to be persuaded you believe in your vision and your ability to lead me, and others, towards achieving it. If there is no conviction there is no trust and no one follows people they don’t trust. I need to know if I follow you that you have staying power, that you are committed to achieving the goal and will not waiver from it. I want you to be courageous and strong, to tell me and more importantly show me with your actions that you have conviction.
For me this is not necessarily inclusion around the vision (although it’s great to be part of this) but the means of delivering it. Just like a good manager delegates the outcomes not the tasks, so the great leader sets direction but does not prescribe the methods for reaching the goal. Allowing followers to express their creativity within your vision will inspire loyalty and release discretionary effort. Let me build on your vision, unleash my creativity, allow me to share it and I will be as passionate as you are about delivering it.
Recognise My Contribution
Lastly it’s a question of reward. I want to know, what’s in it for me if I follow? What will I get out of this? Perhaps if I follow you, you will help my career to progress. I may get a promotion, pay rise or bonus, but more than this I am looking to you to recognise my efforts and praise my contribution. I want you to make me feel like my contribution makes a difference.
So you see great Leadership is less about you and all about them – your followers. To develop as a leader you need to develop the skills to inspire followers, influence them and nurture their continued loyalty and support because if no one is following you, you may well be in charge, but you are not yet a leader!
Hannah Hall works with leaders to develop and communicate their authentic leadership brand: To lead, inspire and deliver. to edit.