I was talking with a client today about developing some leadership training, and they asked me what the one thing I wanted people to take away from the training.
As I thought about that, it really got me to focus because trying to boil three days of training down to one core message is a very interesting process. It really makes you question what’s truly important.
Anyway, after a while of thinking, I came up with my answer, and much to my surprise, it wasn’t what I expected. It wasn’t being authentic or looking to create influence or build trust; it was something much simpler.
My answer was to be the kind of leader that you would want to follow.
This is such a simple concept, but not one I have ever seen written down anywhere. I haven’t heard it mentioned on a course or read it in a book.
But if I could have just one thing that people remember from the training, then it would be that.
When I got to thinking about that and how we were describing what a good leader would look like in the training, it then made me question this.
Should we be describing the type of leader people should be, or should we be asking the people taking the training what kind of leader they would follow?
Too often, we think about leadership from the position of the leader, but maybe we should make the change and think about it from the position of the follower.
Get the people being trained to define the types of qualities that they would look to follow; get them to describe the behaviours that would inspire them. Let’s face it, as trainers, we don’t have exclusive rights to the correct answers, and when it comes to leadership, there is more than one way to skin a cat.
If we get people to focus on what they would follow, it would make the qualities much more personable and probably more important, which might make them more inclined to act in that way.
Every time I tell people to be the type of leader that you would follow, it always takes them by surprise, as if that had never occurred to them before.
Maybe this is too simple a way to think about leadership, but I know that when I ask myself what kind of leader I would follow, I don’t think I have always lived up to that ideal, and it always gives me thoughts on how I could improve.
It’s funny how many people become leaders that they would not follow; they take on the very traits that they have complained about in other leaders, and I often ask myself why they would do that.
If you become a leader that you wouldn’t follow, then why should anyone else follow you?
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