It is sometimes easy for Leaders to forget or overlook the impact they have on their followers.
In my experience, leaders cannot choose to lead people. It does not work that way. People choose to follow people who have exhibited a set of characteristics that make them “followable”. In my experience, there are three characteristics that makes you a “followable” leader.
- Integrity – followable leaders have integrity. There is never a question as to their motives and whether they are ethical. You don’t find followable leaders looking for the loopholes, or walking the thin line or within the gray area. Followable leaders are consistent with their integrity and for them, it is black or it is white. A followable leader makes it very clear which kinds of behaviors are acceptable and which are not. And a followable leader enforces the established ethical practices completely and fairly. It is really hard to get in ethical trouble working for a followable leader.
- Skills – followable leaders have skills. They can skillfully lead, skillfully hire, skillfully coach and develop, and skilfully steer their followers. They are competent in key areas of the business, and they hire competent people for those areas where they may lack skills required for the business. You will learn a lot from followable leaders because they are world class at coaching and developing.
- Accountability – Followable leaders hold themselves accountable, before they attempt to hold anyone else accountable. You will not find followable leaders passing the buck, or saying “not me”, “not my mistake”. They own up, woman up, fess up, and take full responsibility for what they say and what they do. And they do it, long before they expect anyone to do it as well. If you are accountable to yourself, you will thrive under a followable leader. Accountability is the cornerstone of organizational success and followable leaders talk it, walk it, expect it and reward it.
Of these three characteristics, Integrity is key. People won’t follow you for long if you are not competent, and may not follow you if you are not accountable, but only people who lack integrity themselves will follow a leader without it. And that is bad organizational mojo.
What about you? What kind of leader do you follow? Are they followable, or are you following someone lacking in any of these key areas? Your personal success and well being may depend on it.
I’d love to hear your comments!