I recently wrote an article called, “Signs That A Leader Is Failing”. And I did so with a fair amount of trepidation. When you consult with other leaders you always wonder what one of them will think when they read one of your articles. You wonder if they think it is about them.
(Why is there suddenly a Carly Simon song playing in my head)?
Well, today, I hope that all of the leaders that I have worked with over the years think this article is about them.
I have written over 160 articles describing, in some way or another, what it takes to be a superior leader in the home, at church, on the job, and in society. Some researchers and authors claim a superior leader possesses certain traits or abilities innately; others say it is all personality, style and charisma. Still others maintain it is the behaviors or actions that I take — if I do this, then my followers will do thus — that are crucial. Regardless of the how and why, these are some signs that your followers are following you and that you are succeeding as leader:
The team caught your Vision — Successful leaders have followers that have a clear understanding of your vision and what it means to them as an individual contributor or follower. They see it and they own it. There is no ambiguity. If you ask them on an elevator to describe the vision of the organization, they can express it with clarity and passion.
The team understands the Mission — Successful leaders have communicated the mission and the team “gets it”. They know why the organization exists in the first place and they have a sense of the historical context of the organization. They can also answer the mission question on an elevator just as effortlessly as they can answer the vision question.
The team has a Goal — Successful leaders have followers who understand the goals set for them. They were probably participants in setting the organizational goals and their individual goals. They are both excited and challenged by the goals and they are looking forward to stretching to achieve them.
The team is Confident — Successful leaders have followers who are confident in their leaders and in themselves. They have been taken through a process of achieving small successes, bigger successes, and then grand successes that have instilled a “We can do this!” attitude.
The team is Motivated — Successful leaders have followers who are motivated to do bigger and bigger things. They are probably self-motivated in the base case. But they become increasingly motivated in an atmosphere where there is freedom, autonomy, mutual accountability, and the proper resources to be successful.
What is the leadership lesson here?
The leadership lesson is that you can easily identify successful leaders by observing their teams when the leader is not around. You will know the leader is strong and successful when you speak with the team and ask them about the vision and mission of the organization. Successful leaders have successful teams. That sounds obvious and it is. And the obverse is equally true. If the team is not succeeding, one of the first places to look is at leadership.
The basic lesson is also that you as the leader / owner / entrepreneur / pastor need to “be out there” for your team. You need to continually demonstrate to them why and how you earned the leadership position that you now hold. You need to constantly communicate with them using any of a variety of methods that show them that they are worthy and that you are worthy of being followed.
Make that process positive, personal, and inspiring and you can almost guarantee that your team’s results will be consistent with your efforts.
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