How to build a team of leaders who follow you

Are you always looking over your shoulder to see if anyone is following you? If you aren’t confident your team is behind you, here are a few tips to help change the situation.

What your people want from you in your leadership role

Gallup identified four basic needs: trust, compassion, stability, and hope. If you build your approach around meeting these four needs, your people will follow you anywhere.

Think relationships, communication, compassion, respect – all the emotional intelligence skills we’ve overlooked in leadership for years. We need to be confident we’re putting these skills into practice. Here are some suggestions for you.

How you can meet their needs.

  1. Show respect: Show that you value your people by listening to them. When you need to make a firm decision, explain your reasons so they understand you. Be fair in your actions and choices. Treat your people with respect and they will start to respect you, too.
  2. Don’t micromanage. If you find your team always asking for permission, chances are you aren’t giving your team enough space to make decisions and implement them. Give them the space to problem-solve and create their own solutions. Allowing them to do this will build their confidence, creativity, and engagement.
  3. Focus on the why. People need to know why their work is important and the impact it will have in the long term. By knowing the why your people better understand your priorities. You can work together to identify your goals and actions – working like a true team. Knowing the ‘why’ gives people a sense of stability, and a sense of trust that you’re doing the right thing for the here and now.
  1. Work on your relationships. Show some interest in and empathy with your people. Who are they as individuals? Get to know what’s going on in their lives and what matters to them. Show compassion when they reveal their worries. Something as simple as asking about their weekend will make each person feel valued. When you can meet their personal needs or at least take them into account, your people will see that you care.
  1. Encourage open communication. Don’t just give feedback, ask for it, too. Listen. Hear what your team is telling you and act on it. Be a role model for honest, authentic communication. No one will trust you if they think you’re not telling them everything they need to know.
  2. Be accountable. Put your hand up if you make a mistake or miss a deadline. Don’t be one of those leaders who blame others. Show that you’re strong enough and willing to admit when you’re wrong. If you do that, people will more easily trust what you say at other times.
  3. Be positive. Gallup’s research tells us people need stability and hope. That’s been very clear with the recent uncertainty about the nature of work. They say, “While stability focuses on today, hopefulness deals with the future.” Your people need to see how their situation might improve and that their future is worth working towards. Lead your people with optimism. Remind them of what’s great in the now. Point out possibilities and opportunities for the future. Celebrate your progress. Look for all that is good in the world. If there is one thing that really inspires confidence in a leader, it’s their ability to show their vision of a bright future and a way to get there.

Great leadership is ultimately about trusting the people in your team, empowering them, and helping them develop and use their expertise. It’s about giving to your people, not them giving to you. When you understand that, your whole relationship changes. You have their trust and respect, and that’s how you inspire your team of leaders to follow you. It’s how you inspire your team of leaders to want to improve themselves, just like you.

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