Are You Followable? –DeMarco Banter

beta-testingReading from Inc Magazine this afternoon and came across a piece from Erika Andersen titled “Lead So Others Will Follow: 6 Tips.”  This is probably about the third piece I have read from her as part of her new book, Leading So People Will Follow.  Have downloaded the sample on iBooks…need to read it this week.

Andersen comments….”We’ve found that people look for six characteristics in deciding whether to align around a leader. “Followable” leaders are far-sighted, passionate, courageous, wise, generous and trustworthy. Here’s what that looks like in the day-to-day of entrepreneurial life.”

Being far-sighted means you see and share a clear and compelling vision of the future with your people. You see past obstacles and difficulties and focus on moving toward the future you all want to create.

As a passionate leader, your followers know what you stand for, and that you’ll stick to your guns even when the going gets tough. At the same time, you’re open to hearing their questions and concerns. You are committed without being dogmatic.

Being courageous means you make tough, necessary decisions even when doing so is uncomfortable or risky. And if a decision turns out badly, you’ll take full responsibility: admit your mistakes, apologize, and work to fix what’s wrong.

Being wise means you combine curiosity and objectivity. Your team can come to you for counsel, because they know that you’re reflective about important decisions and that you learn from your mistakes.

As a generous leader, you believe in your folks, provide balanced feedback, share credit, and teach what you know. As a result, your people can take on bigger and bigger roles in helping you grow the business.

Being trustworthy makes you a rock and a haven for your followers. They know you’ll always do your best to tell them the truth and to keep confidences. And they know, too, that you’ll do everything possible to get the results you promise.

While looking at some of the young leaders I work with… I struggle with helping them understand these six tips…really traits… as early in their career quest as possible–so how do we TEACH this?  Next we have to look at the leaders around us–are they instructing in the six steps above?  I don’t see or hear much of it.  Now I fall back on a few posts from the last couple days–I really believe this is up to us.  I use “us” as–anyone reading a blog like this, a post like this…or studying leadership….totally understands and is trying to get this right and trying to get better.

We will never have this down in any PEFECT manner…be the Super Model, be the Simple Man, be the leader in permanent beta and admit you don’t have it all together and you are still learning.  Now ponder that thought and go back through the six steps above (far-sighted, passionate, courageous, wise, generous, trust worthy)…sums it up huh?  Care for your people, be a part of the greater good… not personal power… it is so not about you. Does that even make sense?

6 Replies to “Are You Followable? –DeMarco Banter”

  1. You do it like all good parents do. First, you model the six behaviors or traits in your day to day life, for your children or followers to emulate. Second, when presented with a teachable/mentorable moment, you explain your actions or decisions. Simple to say, not always easy to do.

  2. Javie: Agree… not so much not in knowing how to do it, but are we actually doing it? When things get crazy busy, and when times are tough… do we model this? Do we see our bosses modeling it? I can think of a few that were great at it… the sad thing is… I have to type “a few” in front of that. Not really part of the culture… but maybe we are getting better? TEACH might be a poor term actually….how do we inculcate this into our culture? Now we need to talk incentives and rewards huh? That’s probably another post… I need more coffee….

  3. So 6 traits that make a leader followable… Very interesting perspective. In light of our recent conversations and desires to find traits that can be entrenched in our curriculum, maybe this is the way we should look at it as well. It’s one thing for a group of leaders to say what makes a leader great but to think about what a follower would think makes a leader great is a refreshing perspective. Now to the question of how to teach these things… My small thoughts:

    Far-Sighted: Must show this in relation to how other successful leaders have done this. Strategic thinking exercises are always helpful in testing how far-sighted a person is… To what point do they consider the second, third and fourth order effects of their decisions.

    Passionate: This is where your concept of playing to peoples strengths is so important. If a kid is taught to their strengths and have those harnessed and highlighted for the positive net gain then it will build that passion… Not only that, but by playing to the strengths of the student, they will inherently do a better job with whatever the task is.

    Courageous: This is a hard one to teach but an easy one to exercise. Confidence courses will test the physical courage of a person. If it’s a LRC, then you will see exactly how that person deals with the adversity of not only overcoming their own fears, but how they assist others in overcoming theirs. For moral courage, you’d have to exercise this through scenario based discussion. To teach it though, again, you’d have to show examples of how people have faced their fear of whatever (reprisal, loss of personal power, getting friends out of compromising situations, etc). I honestly feel like this is something our organization does fairly well.

    Wise: My personal opinion, you cannot teach this. Only through experience, reading, mentorship and personal dedication can you ever become “wise”. This is where, again, our organization does an OK job. I feel like our curriculum could include more historical reading but the resources are made available (CSAF Reading list, AU Library, Developmental Education) to help us increase our wisdom.

    Generous: Generosity is something that can be instilled but personal ownership is required for this one to take… (I guess you could say that about them all) A leader who gives himself to his organization through not only his time and money but also with his passion, wisdom, courage and far-sightedness can really influence the subordinates. An organization that has high morale doesn’t have a leader who is everyone’s friend… But it’s a leader who is out there in the elements during a cold, rainy day, helping that maintainer turn a wrench. It’s a leader who drops off a cup of hot chocolate to the gate guards. Not because they are their troops, but because it’s what they’d want done for them. When a leader does this, the subordinate will emulate it.

    Trustworthy: Again, this is something that CAN be instilled. So many organizations are derailed because a “leader” shows up and starts wielding their power to affect the organization. There is always room for improvement but to step in and assume things are broken is essentially not trusting those who helped build the organization to where it was. A leader that walks in, really gets the grasp of the organization (typically a few months of observation), then starts empowering the people in the organization to affect change. That shows ultimate trust and can really help build a strong follower (ultimate, a strong leader).

    For our organization, it starts with curriculum but then it’s directly on the cadre to step up and emulate these traits because by showing someone the “right way”, you will create a culture of learning that empowers subordinates to become leaders. It’s definitely a pay it forward philosophy and unfortunately, it takes alot of time and effort and culture change to get a good base. Alot of these traits are already in each of us but to have it fostered at a young age, not only fostered but identified, highlighted and shown to be as important as they are, then we can start pointing to our young officers and say yes, they do emulate the leadership traits we are looking for in our 2050 Leaders.

    Sorry for the lengthy post but I really like these traits. I think it sums up alot and gives us something to really focus on in our venture to create leaders.

      1. Sir, our biggest obstacle will be selling people on the traits… When you say the word generous, I’m sure it will rankle some feathers as I am sure it’s not at the top of the list of some of our leaders priorities… Also, making the abstract, tangible will be another hard sell… Regardless, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth the endeavor. I just hope we can move the football. I bet if we had certain leaders at the Holm Center level, we could see things move a little further… *wink wink*.

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