Does anyone think that the soccer team captain or the coach of the team is placed and kept in their position by appointment? There is no need to debate here as the facts will start to appear after the first match!
What about you? Are you a leader by appointment to your position, or are you a leader because you possess leadership qualities and skills? Does the title make you a leader or do your leadership skills make your position?
The saying goes, you can bring a horse to the river, but you can not force it to drink. So likewise, anyone in a high administrative position can appoint a particular person as a leader (leader of a small team or a large organization). Still, they will not be able to make him lead, and more importantly, they will not be able to make those around this appointed leader follow him.
To effectively influence others, you must meet several strict criteria that allow you to answer this question that your follower will ask: Why should we follow you? Why would we like to follow you?
Please do not rush to answer the question and remember that a leader is not a soccer team captain on the field, nor is he a coach in the direction and planning bench, but rather the person who plays the captain, coach, and cheerleader all together.
Leadership experts provide specific criteria to answer the question (Why should we follow you?), and the most important of these are the following four criteria.
A leader must pass these four criteria or tests on answering the question: Why should we follow you? And why would we like to follow you?
1. Your Motives
What are your motives for leading? Are you leading for personal benefits or the benefits of the team?
None of your followers will accept your influence and direction unless you provide proof of your commitment to the whole team’s success and not just your success. A leader’s main task is to help others succeed, and if the team members do not trust your motives, then nothing else can help fill this gap, and if doubts about your credibility exist, then nothing will help you get your team to follow you.
So how do you convince your team about the integrity of your motives and goals? The truth is, you can never say anything to convince them about that! It is only your actions that can persuade them!
As a leader, you need to ask yourself: Are you used to helping other team members with your time, ideas, and support even though there is no direct outcome from that help? Do you recall any examples where you placed the interest of others in front of yours? Do you remember how it was like when you were a team member? Did you provide other team members with the necessary information? Did you share your experience, skills, and competencies to help and guide others?
2. Your Values
Do you have a compass? And is your compass proper and fixed?
Once followers have reassured your motives, the next question they require to be answered is: What are your core values?
When the team believes that there are common goals between you and them, the effect of this belief is so strong that it will pave the road for a very positive response to your influence and the acceptance of your directives. It will inspire and motivate them towards these goals.
People want to follow a leader who has crystal clear values to grow, learn and live by them. Nobody will follow you if you are not motivated by principles. Nobody will follow you if your principles change according to circumstances.
As a leader, you cannot convince your team with the skills of your tongue and maneuvers of persuasion, but instead, you can only convince and reassure them by your actions. For example, does your team see you accepting personal losses to adhere to principles? Does your team see you refusing to research and discuss a promotion or potential deal just because pursuing that means violating your values? When you are offered a new assignment that should not be accepted, what do you do? Do you explicitly reject it if it exceeds the team’s energy and affects the quality of the work, or do you follow what many leaders do in terms of accepting any additional profit as long as it does not harm the quality in a way that can be discovered and does not expose them to accountability personally?
3. Your Competences
How strong and honest are you?
Once your followers are reassured of your motives, values, and vision of the right path, they also need to be reassured of your ability to take that path. They need your new, constructive ideas to make things better. We always hear that a leader must have a vision! Isn’t vision the most affordable demand? Isn’t it easy to say, go guys, to the top! So let us be at the forefront. Let us work as a solidarity team!
Words are easy! And most leaders are good at formulating the exact significant fancy phrases. However, the real difference and the real difficulty appear when the need to devise tangible ways to achieve those goals and convert words into reality!
Where are your actual accomplishments? What changes did you drive before, and using what tools? Did you change an older way of working back? What is your creative record in running any function or business area?
4. Your Style
Do you know how to get into the hearts and minds of people? Do you know how to touch people from the inside?
After passing all previous tests, followers still need to be reassured of your approach to realizing your ideas and implementing your plans and tools. A great leader is an outstanding coach! It helps all team members explore and activate their energies to the fullest and helps them achieve their goals. A distinguished, successful leader should have two characteristics that appear to be contradictory! He/She must be supportive, understanding, and presenting of the needs, and must at the same time be demanding non-stop and not be content with the current goal and performance, but urge and guide the team towards the following difficult, far, and finest goal!
You must master the two previous skills combined! Because if you were too demanding without regard, you would look like an authoritarian military leader! If you are very considerate, you will look weak and lost, and in either case, no one would like to follow you! People want a critical and compassionate leader, who is friendly, and who is outright intelligent; they want a supporter and a challenger! The true leader is not the one who builds a successful company but instead creates a successful organization or team. Such a team is capable of building and running many successful businesses. Thus, you must focus on building the team, and you must be prepared to make the team’s success the source of your pleasure, pride, and satisfaction!
Achieving all of this depends greatly on your attitude and behavior, and it is not a talent you are born with. On the contrary, it is entirely in your hand to acquire it!