One of the factors that were most important for me back in the days when I was a professional speaker was a maxim that I learned from the former actor that taught me all I needed to know about professional public speaking. He taught me that I needed to “know my audience” before I spoke to them. Those were wise words.
What do you know about your followers?
Leaders, how well do you know your followers? Just what do you know about them? Do you even know them at all? These are tough questions. But, they are questions that we need to consider. Knowing them will provide us the insights into their lives and personalities that we need to be a better leader.
How do you get to know your followers?
Let’s assume for a minute that you accept the value of knowing your followers. How can you get to know them better? Consider the following ideas:
Go to them — Go and visit them. If you regularly have 1-on-1’s with your followers, consider having the next one at their office or sitting at their desk. Why? You will see the things that are important to them by what is on display at their desk. Is it a picture of their family? Their motorcycle? Is their favorite sports team obvious? You may not ever know some of these pieces that make up the whole person unless you make the effort to go to their space.
Go with them — Go with them the next time they need to make a presentation. This does not only apply to sales organizations. Your followers may be making other kinds of presentations and your presence in the audience can demonstrate that you have great confidence in them. You will also get a chance to see them and share with them some feedback based on your personal observations.
Go for them — Go for them and represent them some time at an event where they would normally go. Once you get there, take the opportunity to mingle with the folks that your follower would normally be mingling with. Ask them for their thoughts and insights about your follower. You will get a chance to “see” your follower from a whole new perspective.
Now I “know”. Now, what?
I made an assumption earlier that you accept the value of knowing your followers. My final assumption is that you will take that knowledge that you have gained and use it to build your followers in such a way that they can become leaders themselves. Just like being a professional speaker knows his audience, knowing your followers will provide the insights into their personalities and emotional makeup that you will need to communicate with them effectively at the highest levels. You will really know them. And that’s a good thing.