What’s the one thing that all leaders have in common?
It’s not communication skills. It’s not a positive mentor. It’s not even frequent, strengths-based check-ins around near-term future work.
It’s followers. Without followers, a leader is just another guy on the street. “Leadership,” as a concept, doesn’t exist – we can only define and understand it through his or her followers.
If you are interested in leadership, you shouldn’t be asking yourself, “What makes a good leader?” You should be asking yourself, “What will make someone follow me?”
That sounds like a very complex question, but it also has a simple answer: Confidence. You follow someone into the future when they can make you see, most vividly, what is around the corner. Leaders turn anxiety about the future into confidence – and every leader will have a different method for painting a vivid picture of a positive future for their followers.
By that logic, to know and develop your best leaders, you have to be able to know how their followers are feeling – how confident they are in the future that this leader is driving them towards. The best – and only, really – leadership development strategy is having a method to measure employee engagement, quickly and reliably, and giving that data to the leader. That’s the only way that over time, the leader can understand how well he or she is inspiring confidence within their followers. That is the best leadership development strategy.
How do you define leadership? How do you measure the success of your leaders?