Why Would Anyone Want YOU To Lead Them?

A Question of Leadership in Terms of "Followship"


Halloween has just ended and the airwaves are full of Christmas music. Are we just going to bypass Thanksgiving altogether? I certainly hope not. Thanksgiving is a time of reflection for me. It reminds me that the year is nearly over.

At this time of year, many leaders and leadership teams are taking their annual step back to do a deep-dive assessment of their organization’s progress against the goals and objectives of their strategic plans that they established in the early days of 2016. (What? You don’t do that at your organization? Have you ever considered that maybe that is part of what is holding the organization back?)

Take A Look on the Inside

As part of your end-of-year strategic progress review, consider including another area of assessment — one that will require a different kind of evaluation and one that will be much more introspective in nature. Why not take some time to also consider how you personally are progressing as a leader? After all, an organization’s strategic performance is, in large part, a direct reflection of the effectiveness of the person at the top.

If you want to silence a room of pastors, executives or any group of leaders try this small trick. Ask them, “Why would anyone want you to lead them?”

Without fail, the response will most likely be a sudden, stunned hush. All you will hear are knees knocking and crickets chirping.

I work with pastors and other heads of non-profit and NGO organizations a lot. And this group has good reasons to be concerned. Many of their organizations are in decline in terms of direct membership or corporate sponsorship. And everyone is looking around for a reason. Few are looking inward. But leaders of these types of organizations are not unique in this lack of self-awareness. Business and commercial enterprises are full of leaders without a compelling case for “followship.”

But the problem is that you can’t do anything in a volunteer organization, church, or ministry setting without followers. And, as an example, pastors are called to be leaders. For all of the talk out there about servant leadership, and I am a big fan of servant leadership, pastors are called to be shepherds. And shepherds are leaders. They lead the sheep. They don’t wander with sheep. They lead sheep.

So leaders of churches, ministries or non-profit organizations had better know what it takes to lead effectively. They must find ways to engage people and gauge very quickly their commitment to the organization’s goals and mission.

Sadly, most don’t know how to really lead, and who can blame them? They were never taught that in seminary or divinity school. And although there is graduate level development for leaders in non-profit organizations, most leaders do not avail themselves of it due to budgetary or other constraints.

What does the research say?

What about you? Do you have a compelling reason to give why someone would want you to lead them?

Recently the Corragio Group posed this question in a Harvard Business Review on-line survey that was taken by leaders around the world. The responses revealed an interesting mix of perspectives. Here are a few that were received:

  1. “Because I’m above average height.”
  2. “Because I can provide enough confidence for myself.”
  3. “Because they just do. I can’t explain it.”
  4. “Because my values are clear.”
  5. “Because I’ll bring out the best in them.”
  6. “Because I’m credible.”

Obviously, they hit a nerve with that question. What they found as they reviewed the responses was something very important to consider: Is it possible that many leaders honestly don’t know why anyone would want to be led by them?

If getting clear on why anyone would want to be led by you resonates and you think that it’s important for you to be able to answer the question, then please reach out to me for a dialog on this topic in the coming days.

Consider this as my closing quote for this article on leadership and followship. It was originally stated by Trever Cartwright.

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Leader -|- Follower -|- Guide

I am the husband of a beautiful and wonderful woman. I am the father of two of the greatest kids on the planet. I am a father-in-law to a great young woman. And I am Papa to three very special grandchildren. In my spare time I am an active blogger and writer. And if there is any time left over, I work with small non-profit organizations and churches on the topics of change management, crisis intervention and leadership development.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.