Earning Followership

I read some advice about how to lead after being assigned or awarded a team. The advice was all about being nice and respectful and mature, and hardworking, brave, clean, loyal, reverent, and… all good, I guess.

But people who are assigned or awarded a team aren’t leaders. They are people who have been assigned or awarded a team.
Try this: The job of a leader is to earn followers. Leadership is the actions that earn followers.
I see a lot of people floating over a team trying to outperform team members. That usually leads to an Emily Litella moment, when they realize they maybe didn’t fully grasp what good is.
Other LTG’s create new mission and vision for their group. “At last, we can do it MY way!” Mission and vision come from listening to customers. Winning is harder when you lack real customers.
Best practices are blatantly obvious or they are not best practices.
Leading is not competing with your team. Leading is not changing the rules unilaterally. Leading is taking actions every day that benefit the led, make them more productive, secure, and knowledgeable.
That’s a tough model, because usually the easy stuff was done a long time ago.
The path is constantly learning better what needs to be done, what is changing, and how to get better results easier. By the end of the first week, that gets hard.
On the other hand, of course that’s hard! If it was easy they would have given it to somebody else!
Sales Lab Handouts – You’re giving this away?

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Profile Photo Henry Brown

Awesome post! It is my opinion that the earning of followership or leading is a continous process and not something you do during the first months of the new assignment, which I believe you were trying to say.

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Profile Photo Dick Davies

Hi Henry!

Like you, I say leadership is forever. However, it gets hard afer you’ve done all that came easy when you got there.

Do you watch Frank Selleck in Blue Bloods? That’s a series about leadership.

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Profile Photo Jack Gates

Excellent observations about wrongheaded approaches some individuals adopt.

Being a shirtsleeves leaders does NOT mean out-working and out-shining the rest of the team. It is working side by side with team members and refining the plans under field conditions.

Not all leaders are appointed, many great leaders gain authority from doing the right things at the right time – people follow leaders due to confidence not proclamation.

Leaders must earn followers – there’s no administrative shortcut in doing so.

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