What makes a person followable? What is it about them which inspires others to follow them? What do they do?
This topic has interested me for a long time and after working with some amazing leaders and clients, I believe I’ve pinpointed some of the key elements of followable people. These are my thoughts and I’d love to know if they resonate with you.
1. They know where they’re going and why.
You’re not followable if you have no direction or no solution. Followable people are action takers, enthusiastic about the direction they are heading. They are confident and inclusive, welcoming anyone on board who wants to make the journey with them.
2. They know how they’re going to get there.
There are a couple of important elements here. First, they can explain their plans, so you know it’s not just a hope or wishful thinking they are relying on. They know where to start and they’ve thought about the pros and cons of their choices. They have considered their teams, both strengths and weaknesses, and know they are capable of reaching the goal.
Followable leaders stand for something; they have values and standards they adhere to and expect others to do the same. Their plans are aligned with their values. This inspires respect and trust because followers have a clear idea of where their leader might take them. It allows people to be sure they’re own values are in alignment before choosing to follow.
3. They care about others.
Followable people know life is not all about them. They’re not self-focused so they can pay attention to the people around them. They are emotionally intelligent and genuinely want to understand their followers and help them grow. Followable people find ways to make the journey benefit everyone on their team. Often, they put others ahead of themselves which has got to be the clearest way to show how much you care.
4. They lead by example.
Followable people do what they say they will. They don’t ask anything of others they won’t do themselves and they prove it by doing. Actions are more important than words because they prove you mean what you said, and you will act on it.
5. They listen.
People become followable because they listen to others. They constantly gather information which tells them how people are feeling, whether they are coping, if they are still excited about their goals, what is bothering them, what they need or what’s holding them back. They listen for feedback on their ideas and suggestions and involve their followers in a discussion about the goals and plans. You know what it feels like when you offer a suggestion and it’s overlooked or dismissed, don’t you? It doesn’t encourage you to keep following.
When you look back over this list of best practices, it seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Yet how many managers have you worked with who put these into place?
If you want to be followable, start thinking about your actions and how you’re presenting yourself. Listen to the people around you, consider the people around you and include the people around you. When they know you care, they’ll choose you as their leader. You will have become followable.