“A leader without followers is a person taking a walk”
This is a quote I live by. Without a group of people passionate about what you want to achieve and willing to go down that path with you, there is no hope of achieving your vision. After all, we are only human, and one person. To create movements, we need to garner followers, for it is our first few followers that are our underrated leaders.
Through the years, I have walked alone (thinking I could do it all) until I realized that inspiring others to do more, be more and achieve more would help me achieve my goals, my organization’s goals and our collective aspirations. I will never forget one leader in my life that sat me down and said, “Katie, you need to inspire, motivate and not dictate outcomes. People will do more for you if they believe that you believe in them, their ideas, and you build trust.” She continued to say, “You need to connect with them on a personal level and drive results through your people—not at your people.” That was the day I vowed to be different, to focus on my people and not just the results. Let me tell you, doing this gave me much more success. I worked on creating followers to influence change and the results needed.
This didn’t come naturally. It was hard work, with many feedback sessions and a lot of trial and error. After plenty of practice, I stumbled on a formula that has worked for me and allowed me to grow as a leader while being part of the growth and success of my people. Below are the four areas I focus on when working with a new team, individuals, and organizations. These four areas have helped me to influence a following with an effective impact.
The first stop on the path to influencing followers is establishing credibility with your team. They need to believe that you are capable of doing the work you are asking them to do, and that you have the expertise to guide them down the path you are asking them to follow.
Connect on Common Ground
This is the part where, as a leader, you need to get to know your team members and connect with them on a common playing field. We all hear things differently; our perception is our reality. Without the knowledge on how to frame your goals with each individual team member, they won’t see your goal as clearly as you do. Establishing common ground and connecting with your team members will give you the insights you need to tailor and individualize your messages for a greater impact on results.
Share Compelling Stories
The most successful organizations and leaders are story tellers. Positive behavior breeds positive behavior. As leaders, we need to share stories of past successes, of memorable moments, and the success stories of other team members. Doing this allows for your future followers to believe it’s possible! Share the successes of your team from the roof tops! Let them hear all the great things others are doing so they are motivated to do more.
Connect Emotionally and Establish Trust
“No matter how effective the strategy, your vision, or your communication, you will fail to achieve the desired results for your organization if you cannot inspire trust”
The latter three pieces of advice mean nothing unless you connect emotionally with your team and establish trust. Your team needs to believe in your ‘why’ and believe that you believe in theirs. Simon Sinek says it best in his TED talk, Start with the Why, “people don’t buy what we do, they buy why we do it. Decisions are made with our limbic brain, the part of the brain that controls our emotions.” We need to connect with our team on a different level to inspire trust and in return gain results. Building your trust account as a leader will allow you to ask your team to take a chance with you and jump in with two feet in achieving your goals and your organization’s goals.
Remember, people work for people not organizations. Inspire your people to follow you willingly and watch the passion, results and energy that is cultivated!