What creates leaders? What creates followers? Do compelling leaders create better followers?
What does it mean to be a leader?
What is leadership?
Two questions that I often ask when helping teams build foundational skills for leadership.
We don’t always stop to think about it and people attempt to connect the dots of leadership with the concept of formal authority. The formal authority suggests that you’ve moved to the position of supervisor, manager, or director.
Formal authority matters. Yet, leadership is about so much more.
Formal authority is often granted to people with the highest credential, the person or persons who have been around the longest, or the ones that demonstrate great depth in technical skills.
Leadership is expected to ensue.
Are They Communicators?
There are terms often thrown around to indicate people who are compelling.
You can consider phrases like, “street smarts,” or “used car salesman.” Both of these are often quickly identified with someone who can navigate people situations with clever grace.
They create buy-in or can sell beach front property in South Dakota.
They are well skilled in persuasive communication. Most of their skill is developed informally, not through conventional education but through trial and error. They’re observers and they’ve learned what works and what doesn’t.
It is not so much natural as it is a learned skill.
They’ve developed communication skills that allow them to be convincing and compelling.
Every once-in-a-while we encounter a compelling leader.
The compelling leader has a large tool box. He or she can stand toe-to-toe with the formal leaders, and can also create a strong following.
People rarely follow because they are told to do so. People follow because they are compelled to do so.
There is a phrase, a meme of sorts, “Great leaders don’t develop a belief in the leader, they develop a belief in the follower.”
The best news for any leader, formal or otherwise, is that the act of creating a compelling message is a learned skill. Being a great leader is an option. It’s not an appointed position.
Compelling leaders are great learners.
And great communicators.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.