Too often, young leaders start with the wrong perspective on leadership.
It is not bad to want to lead, but typically they think that leadership is all about “being a leader.” This view encourages self-aggrandizing behaviors, playing politics, and efforts to get people to follow you. Ultimately, it leads to frustration when these ill-fated techniques do not work.
When we want to know how to get people to follow us, we have begun by asking the wrong question.
Leadership is not about you. It is about the people you lead.
The Motivation to Lead
It took me a long time to understand this point (Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership notwithstanding) . The difference is motivation.
The correct motivation is the key to success in leadership. If you really believe in that leadership is all about you, will act one way. But if you believe that leadership is about success of your followers, then you will act an entirely different way. Let me illustrate.
Parallels between Social Media and Leadership
Social media is a wonderful metaphor for successful leadership. Think about how social media works. It is not command-and-control. There is no boss telling you what you must read or write.
In social media, the would-be leader must make his mark not with control, but by influence. That influence is magnified when it is focused on the needs of others.
Loud “buy my product” overtures fall flat. They are ignored (or blocked). In contrast, the best social media marketers simply give away a lot of valuable material. They attract a crowd because they look to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). People follow them because they add value.
Are you adding value to others?
What is the secret of getting people to follow you? Stop trying to be a “leader.” Sincerely add value to others and before long you will have a following.
November 28, 2012
Dr. Gerdes is the Director of the MBA Program at Charleston Southern University