Getting Followers

If a leader is somebody that has followers, then the obvious question is; how do you get followers?  Last week I had the thrill of advancing this specific conversation to a group of leaders in the insurance and financial services industry.   This is a topic that has fascinated me since childhood.   If people like Charles Manson and Jim Jones can lead followers into insane behaviors, why can’t entrepreneurs lead their followers to the land of healthy performance? 

 

Below are simple points that are the keys to gaining passionate followership;

 

1.      You must answer the “why” question:   Delegation is about what to do and how to do it.  Delegation may garner employees but it will not cultivate followership.  Passionate followers want to understand “why” following your lead will produce a potent result.

2.      You must be authentic:  When leaders study the effectiveness of other leaders they run the risk of trying to copy somebody they are not.  The best leaders do not pretend.  They are!  Study, learn, observe but most of all integrate.  Authenticity is compelling, and tragically it is rare.

3.      You must be clear:  Garry Willis in the book “Certain Trumpets”, closes with this profound statement on history; “it is not noblest of trumpet calls that are answered, it is the most answerable!”  People are not able to follow ambiguity.  Tragically, cult leaders have mastered the art of simplicity.  Entrepreneurs must bring about clarity in a time of uncertainty. 

4.      You must use symbols:  Followership is something that is generated from a deep and personal part of an individual.  From the beginning of time symbols have served as an expression and representation of what we can’t always say.  Use one or two symbols to visually express deeply held convictions.

5.      You must ask:  Finally, don’t forget to ask people to follow.