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What a follower looks for in a leader

Everybody likes to be treated a certain way, regardless of position. When it comes to leadership, the people following are no exception, particularly when the pressure is on. We look around today and we see many examples of how 'not' to lead, with motive and politics getting in the way all too often.

When we break it right down and strip everything away that doesn't matter, followers really look for certain key values in a leader. They are:

If a leader needs volume to get things done – something's not quite right

If a leader feeds their ego on the inferiority of others – there is most likely a deep rooted insecurity issue somewhere

If a leader treats others like their personal property, then they are not a true leader

If a leader has to decrease a another person's value in order to increase theirs – then their leadership is worth very little.

True influence is inspiration not manipulation

Finally, if a leader demonstrates competency, genuine concern for others and has an admiral character - people will follow

What is Management Evasion?

This is probably one of the biggest issues affecting not just business today, but anywhere a structure of management exists.

Evasion: the act of avoiding something you don't want to do, or deal with.

In my experience it is most prevalent when it comes to poor performance. Many managers, including very senior ones, cover both poor behaviour and the performance of certain individuals within their teams by simply evading or burying things.

Why is this the case?  Below are a few of the most common reasons:

Management evasion costs money. Although it can be difficult to measure specifically, I have seen performance increase significantly when addressed.  Apart from the performance and impact of the individual(s) in question, it is one of the most talked about subjects in the organisations I've been involved with.

It's therefore worth considering some investment towards addressing this problem such as specialist people skills training and mentoring.  This would go some way to changing the status quo. 



The Power of a Smile

Regardless of culture, nationality or class, a smile has a universal meaning. It really says you are accepted, you are welcome and all is well.

Hazel and I were in London recently and walked alongside a Marathon route just as it was finishing. The girl in last place was approaching the finish line with the accompanying motorbike coming behind her.  We heard the cheer and shouting of encouragement even before we saw her. Then she came running past smiling broadly as she ran.

If you were to sit at the entrance of a shop, people generally don't walk past with a big grin on their faces, but if you smile at them, they will usually smile back.

Is it fake or is it real?

Whenever we smile, there are 2 potential muscles we activate. The first one controls the corners of your mouth. Whenever this muscle only is activated, it’s not actually a genuine smile. Scientists call this the “social” smile. The second muscle is known to show sincerity and encircles our eye socket. We can usually tell the difference though.

Why don't we make somebody's day by giving them a genuine smile.

The Tight Place

I remember many years ago as a young engineer in the Medical Device industry hitting a very formidable problem. It had me completely stomped.  I simply couldn't see a way to resolve what was a very 'big' problem as far as I was concerned.

The then Technical Director came alongside me as I stood pondering the challenge before me and after a few minutes he said, 'Why don't you go home and think no more about this tonight.  When you come in tomorrow fresh you will see a way forward.  If you don't we'll change something.' (Words of wisdom from a mature manager)

I did go home at suggested, but I must confess that it was still very real in my mind.  The next morning I wasn't in work 10 minutes until I saw the solution.  It's as if it was staring me in the face all along.

The moral of this story is that we all get into a tight place once in a while, that's life.  Even though things look pretty gloomy at times, there is always a way.  Someone said once, 'The thing you fear the most seldom ever comes upon you.'

The benefit of hindsight is an amazing thing also.  We can often look back at tight times and laugh at where we are now, compared to what we were going through then.

The Gift of Disorientation

I attended a conference recently where one of the speakers talked about the gift of disorientation. I hadn't heard disorientation being described as a gift before, but what he was really saying was that it's good to allow people exposure to 'stretch' once in a while.

Speaking from the position of being a very successful leader, I could see what he was saying. People learn fast when they're exposed to stretch.  

Stretch is good. At least that's what everyone else says, except the person being stretched of course. 

The bottom line is that it's not comfortable being stretched.  In fact, it has been used as a torture technique in past days, just to keep it in perspective.

That said, we can all remember times in our own lives when we were stretched, or pushed beyond our comfort zones.

We didn't enjoy it at the time, but we're probably glad we were.

Some of the most defining moments of our lives happened when we were being stretched, but I'm guessing we'd not willingly choose to relive many of them.

However, we are stronger as a result though, so I'd say that stretch in this context is actually a good thing.