I believe everyone has the capacity to lead. If that’s true, then why aren’t there more skilled leaders out there? I (and a slew of my betters) spend a lot of time thinking, writing, and talking about how to lead well – how to take what you’ve got and use it to guide and inspire others. Even with all this help we struggle sometimes to muster all our gifts and talents and skills in the right direction. We fail to connect with those we mean to lead. We fail to convince others to join us on the adventure.
Many blame their inability to attract great followers on external factors like the economy, poor timing, lack of capital, no experience, or even bad weather. I believe the biggest thing that holds us back isn’t external, its internal. We sabotage ourselves with runaway emotions and uncontrolled attitudes.
So here are 7 ways that I’ve seen leaders make themselves unattractive to followers. I hate to admit it, but I’ve fallen prey to each of them to some degree at one time or another. So watch out!
1. You’re selfish. Nothing stinks more than a selfish leader. This can be subtle. But it’s easy to sense selfishness in a leader, and the stench will turn your stomach. Leaders serve people and organizations. Period. Be generous!
2. You’re anxious. Fear is healthy; anxiety is deadly – to you and your followers. Go ahead, be afraid. Then do what needs to be done in spite of your fear. That’s courage. That’s what people follow.
3. You’re insecure. An insecure leader, trying to gain worth or significance from others, is just plain pathetic. You must trust yourself before you can expect others to do the same. Know what your identity is rooted in.
4. You’re short-sighted. People want to go somewhere grand and accomplish great things – no one dreams of being a loser. If you can’t see the bigger picture, the bigger vision, you definitely can’t lead anyone there.
5. You’re not going anywhere. You can’t steer a parked car; neither can you lead without moving. The movement doesn’t need to be physical; you can move hearts, minds and beliefs – but you’ve got to move!
6. You’re entitled. Think you deserve to be trusted? Think again. Trust is always – always – earned. Followers choose to give it or withhold it. If you want their trust, ask for it, don’t demand it.
7. You’re a jerk. At it’s core, leadership is a relationship. You can’t hope to get the best out of someone if you treat them with disrespect or contempt. Great leadership springs from a genuine care for others.
Which of these 7 do you struggle with the most?
Did I miss any?