Leadership requires a lot of fundamental skills but they are all designed to do two main things, generate more leaders and generate willing followers. Because only your legion of followers will be able to attain your vision / goal – you are very unlikely to do it by yourself. Today we’ll look at things from the follower’s perspective to enhance our understanding of what it takes to be a leader. There is one main cornerstone, on which we’ll concentrate – establishing TRUST.
First let’s start by clearing up a stigma about being a follower. It IS NOT an insult or putdown to be known as a follower, in fact ALL of us are followers; even the ones known as great leaders follow something or someone at sometime. So don’t mistake being a follower of something or someone you believe in to being a mindless sheep. If you are still having a problem with the term try this… substitute follower with supporter. Ok now that we’ve got that overcome, let’s talk about how to get a following.
No one will follow you without you first establishing TRUST. Yes, of all the characteristics we attribute to being necessary to be a good leader; integrity, honesty, openness, empathy… it’s a long list, they all add up to one thing for us (as potential followers), one ‘feeling’, TRUST. Without it you may get plenty of platitude and promises but no sincere or legitimate action – and action is what it takes to attain visions / goals.
Early in my career I became known a ‘fixer’ or ‘trouble shooter’ as they are sometimes called. In other words I was called upon to go into situations where an organisation was floundering – or worse – to turn it around. Every time there was always one thing I needed to do first and foremost before anything else could be accomplished. I had to establish trust. You see I was not the engine, which was going to turn things around, only the catalyst; I needed the people to follow my lead so they could be the engine.
Considering the environments I was entering were anything but ideal since these organisations were hurting and in serious trouble you can imagine how the people were feeling. In fact they were in such a predicament because they had lost all trust in the previous leadership. They too were hurting, confused, worried, fearful, angry… not a great starting point. But by establishing trust, then demonstrating the subsequent leadership skills, we are very proud to say we have a 100% success rate of turning negative situations into a positive ones, based on many different metrics – that is a lot of ‘fixing’ over 30+ years and a lot of trust built.
To provide you a better understanding of what it takes to build trust.
Each of you will undoubtedly have your own ideas on this already. I’d like to propose something, which will help bring that life.
We have found in order to build trust to the point where someone or a group is willing to choose to follow your lead and actually take action you have to approach them on two fronts.
- They have to like you (Character) and
- They have to think you’re credible (Competence).
Now stop for a second and have a think about the difference between the two – this is all-important! Let’s break it down.
Like you (belief in you & your character)
This is building a personal connection and is in the Leadership realm with a heavy emphasis on your emotional intelligence capabilities, because this is how they FEEL about you. This is NOT to say you have to be their buddy / mate, it IS to say they must FEEL you share similar values and beliefs. The characteristics associated with this you’ll need to demonstrate may be from your list you thought about earlier; being humble, honest, authentic, empathetic and caring. These all elicit a positive feeling and are intangible. This is communicating to their emotional brain – which drives all actions – ensuring you’re like them, pose no threat, and so are worthy. TRUST worthy!
Credibility (belief in your ability / competence)
This is your professional credentials and is in the Management realm. These are tangible (facts rather than feelings) and are the sum of your specific knowledge, demonstrable skills and capabilities. The ‘what you know and have done’ factors which they can SEE. This is communicating to their cognitive brain rationalising that we have the ‘tools’ so are worthy. TRUST worthy!
The reason we have been so successful in every case over thirty years of turning around situations and environments is we realised and sincerely and with high integrity followed this dual aspect approach for building trust. Establish one without the other and you will not get the results you require – in fact this is the most common mistake organisations and individuals make or don’t realise.
With trust as the cornerstone we then developed and brought everyone on the rest of the journey toward a more rewarding, profitable and sustainable future. You can too!
Our MSB Max Professional Journey step advice today is:
Take the two-aspect approach to building trust; to gain a following, which will take action AND necessitates both to be fulfilled. Communicate to your people’s emotional and logical brain to allow them to decide if you are worthy to lead them. Get here and they will not only follow your lead but take action.
If MSB Max can help you with establishing this duality of trust or developing any of the subsequent leadership requirements for your success, please contact us. We exist to help you!
Enjoy the journey,