The most effective leaders are those who become the type of person that others willingly follow.
Most of us know the type of leader that we would be willing to follow—intuitively we are drawn to these type of people. We might not be able to give a detailed description, but we all know a true leader when we experience one.
Transformative leaders have a presence, they have an aura about them that embodies the principles they stand for and demonstrates the values they preach.
In assessing our own leadership the challenge is clear: How do I become the type of leader others are willing to follow?
If the goal is to become a leader worth following, we must consider our own development as a person and put ourselves on a path of growth to become what we were created to be.
Transformative leadership is only possible when a leader develops the necessary habits, dispositions, and mindset that allows their effectiveness to be unleashed.
Great leadership is more caught than taught. Simply put, your habits, dispositions, and character are what define your leadership in the eyes of the people that follow you. For better or worse the team is going to take on the personality and habits of the leader.
Leaders have a huge responsibility then to become the type of people that they want the people in their organization to imitate.
Effective leadership always, “starts with you.” As a leader if you want the people around you to be self-controlled, selfless, full of integrity and passionate about serving others then YOU have to embody those qualities on a daily basis.
Remember leadership is more caught than taught, which means that the people on your team are going to follow your example more than what you say. You need to look in the mirror and become the type of person for others that you are asking others to become for you!
As leader’s become the right people for others, they will inevitably inspire those around them to become the people they were created to be. A relational approach to team-building and leadership should be the natural extension of any leader’s commitment to becoming a leader worth following.
No one follows someone they can’t relate to and no one follows a leader they don’t feel connected to. A core requirement in becoming a “leader worth following” implies that my growth as a leader is not a self-serving exercise, but is founded on the desire to help others reach their potential.
The effectiveness of your leadership is tied to how well you marry these two approaches—“Starting with You” and “Focusing on Them.” World champion coach Gregg Popovich offers insight into how he leads his players:
“I think relationship building helps them want to play for you, for the program, for their teammates. Beyond that from a totally selfish point of view, I think I get most of my satisfaction from that. Sure winning championships is great, but it fades quickly.” -- Gregg Popovich
Leaders understand that a genuine concern for the people around them is the relational building blocks that every great team is built on. Popovich does this by making an effort to build a relationship with his players on and off the court: the entire scope of their lives becomes a matter of importance, not just how many points they can score or assists they can dish out.
When leaders show that they care, strong teams are built and lives are transformed.
We can all get started by growing into a leader worth following by developing two simple habits. Here are behaviors that manifest “starting with yourself” and “focusing on them.”
1) Daily Nourishment
“Starting with you” begins with building a sound mind, body, and spirit every day. As Christians we are promised that a relationship with God gives us a certain disposition that helps us become the type of leaders that others are willing to follow.
"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." (2 Tim 1:7)
Every day find a time, a place, and a resource—this could be anything from a book, podcast, sermon, or article—that feeds your mind and heart with the truths of transformational leadership. Write those three things down right now.
2) Relational Approach
Write down one person you want to connect with and build into as a leader this week. Invite them to lunch or schedule a phone call. Be intentional and focus on building that relationship this week by showing interest in who they are as a person.