Is your strongest following from your weakest followers?
If so, what does that say about your leadership abilities or style?
Well, you say, “I don’t know.” “What do you mean my ‘weakest followers.’”
Take a look around you. Are you surrounded by strong leaders? Are the people that are the closest to you able to think and act independently? Do you trust them? Are they capable?
I get to observe a lot of different and varied organizations. Some are in the very top tier of the Fortune 500. And some are small to medium sized business. Some are very small entrepreneurial ventures. And some are ministry and non-profit organizations. Each organization has leaders with varied skills and varied “amounts” of leadership ability.
One of the defining characteristics of the top tier leaders is the quality of those who are working the closest with them. That may almost seem like a “Duh!” statement. But stick with me for a second.
It would be easy to say that, of course, my leadership success would be greater and my organization would be stronger if I had better followers. But that seems to shift the “fault” or failure to the followers.
Take a few moments and look at those followers upon which you spend the most of your time and energy. Are they strong followers? Are they likely to help you take your organization to the next level? Or are they the weakest followers that are attracted to you?
After more than 30 years in both the business world and ministry in local churches I have observed that many leaders have the largest (or strongest) following from the weakest of their followers. There are many possible reasons for that. And most of those reasons revolve around the confidence (or lack thereof) of the leader.
- Weak followers are easily swayed by leaders who lack confidence.
- Strong followers have ideas and experiences that will bring value to the organization but they sometimes threaten leaders who lack confidence.
- Weak followers do not have a lot of expectations from their leaders.
- Strong followers expect strong leadership that has been proven in challenging or difficult circumstances.
- Weak followers lack confidence in themselves and seek their identity in their leader.
- Strong followers are confident and often have leadership in other organizations and do not “need” recognition from their leader.
What is the leadership lesson here?
The leadership lesson is that as leaders we need to surround ourselves with other leaders. We need to seek out those who will challenge us and make us better leaders. As leaders, we need to be in the business of building other leaders and not in the business of building followers.
So, look around you. How do you feel about that circle of followers? Are they the weakest of the flock? Or are they the strongest and most proven? Remember that passage from the Bible that is often quoted in times like these:
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. — Proverbs 27:17
Notice it is iron that sharpens iron. It is not wood or water that sharpens it. In fact, one will dull it while the other will degrade it over time.
Surround yourself with “Iron Followers” and you just may end up a sharper leader. And you may end up with more “Iron Leaders.”