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What makes it so easy to follow a great leader… May 19, 2015

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Job Opportunities.

I would follow him anywhere. That was the response from a friend when we were talking about how much they enjoyed their job. They have worked with this person for several years and have a great rapport. We talked about how their boss is easy to work with, which is a primary reason for their success and job satisfaction.

So how easy are you to follow? As a leader I’d like to think I am, but of course, the only real opinion that matters is that of my team members. So what makes a person a good leader or easy to follow? I think the answers are pretty straight forward and common sense, but often not common practice because our own personality quirks and baggage get in the way.

Here is a recognized list of common sense leadership practices considered characteristics of leaders who are easy to follow:

Be nice – It’s kind of sad this has to be called out but it does. Too many leaders are jerks. They let power go to their heads. Don’t do that,  just be nice. Smile every once in a while. Say please and thank you. Ask people how their day is going. It doesn’t cost you a dime to be nice and you’ll be amazed at how much more engaged and productive your team will be if you treat them nicely.

Don’t expect everyone to be like you – This can be challenging, particularly for leaders who have personalities that favor perfectionism. It’s great to have high expectations for yourself, that’s probably what helped you rise to a leadership position. It’s good to have high expectations for your staff as well, but remember, they may not do things exactly the way you would. Give people the freedom to be who they are and leverage their strengths to help them achieve their goals and those of the team.

Show a sense of humor & make work fun – Making work fun and showing a sense of humor is a hallmark of leaders who are easy to follow. Create a sense of camaraderie within the team and keep the mood light when times get tough. Showing a sense of humor and laughing at yourself once in a while shows your vulnerability and authenticity. That’s what draws people to you, not away from you.

Treat people with respect and create an environment of trust and safety – It’s the leader’s job to foster an environment of trust and safety that allow team members to unleash their power and potential for the good of themselves and the organization.

Give people your time – The greatest gift you can give your people is a few minutes of your time. Leaders like to say they have an open door policy, but is that really the case with you? Does everyone on your team know without a doubt that they can meet with you regarding any topic?

Solicit and incorporate people’s ideas – Many leaders are great at asking for ideas but only a few actually do anything with them. One of the quickest ways to alienate your team members is to tell them you want to hear their ideas and are open to feedback, but not actually do anything with it when it’s shared with you.

Empower people – Good leaders establish the boundaries of the playing field for their team members, make sure everyone is clear on the rules and objectives, and then let them play the game. They don’t micromanage and dictate how the work should be done.

Recognize and reward good performance – Leaders who are easy to follow are experts at finding people doing something right. They take the time to acknowledge the good performance of their team members and to celebrate their (and the team’s) success. People crave hearing positive feedback about their hard work.

Maintain perspective on the most important priorities in life – Work is important but life is more important. Easy to follow leaders maintain the proper perspective about what’s most important in life. These kind of leaders understand they have to lead the whole person, not just the worker who shows up to do a job every day. Kids get sick, employees have personal challenges, life happens….good leaders understand this and are sensitive to the needs of their team members.

Leadership doesn’t have to complicated. A little common sense principles will help us be successful leaders, if only we can get out of our own way.

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