Looking back on my career, one of my most memorable managers was the kind of person who would jump into the trenches with the team when times were tough and say “thanks for what you do” every time I left his office… and he really meant it!
His support and respect inspired me to express gratitude, encouraged me to communicate freely and earnestly, and helped influence a leadership philosophy that I would carry throughout my career.
Leadership lessons are often rooted in past experiences, memorable mentors and even professional failures. One such epiphanous moment came while I was at an executive retreat in India years ago. Before embarking on this trip, I set an aspirational goal for myself to discover how to be a truly authentic, inspirational leader. This meant borrowing knowledge from my predecessors, re-living both successes and failures, and taking an impartial, introspective view at myself to determine the kind of leader I wanted to be.
I began peeling back the layers and determined that I wanted to be the type of leader that compelled followership within an organization. ‘Followership’ drives shared enthusiasm and excitement for work. It fosters a collaborative culture and supportive working environments that build strong teams which recognize and celebrate peers’ accomplishments.
“‘Followership’ fosters a collaborative culture and supportive working environments that build strong teams which recognize and celebrate peers’ accomplishments.”
Followership, in its simplest form, creates a sense of community within the workplace, and is a guiding force that will stick with future generations of leaders, as it did with me.
Inspiring followership starts with small gestures—acknowledging hard work at all levels, being mindful of the time and effort that people put in, getting to know your employees and peers personally, and staying composed when in high pressure situations. From there, followership blossoms into instilling trust and honesty across all layers of the organization.
When leaders unequivocally trust middle management and front-line staff to drive the company’s initiatives, the whole organization thrives. In addition, transparency, while a no-brainer, requires leaders to take a hard look at themselves and their company from time to time and show a human side to the organization in both good and bad times. Once these building blocks come together, mutual respect, trust and honesty assemble a sense of community and pride within a group.
Compelling followership is rooted in the idea that leadership is not about command and control. Leadership requires those at the helm to empower and embrace everyone across the organization. When I come to work every day, I strive to lead my team by bringing the best of myself to the table and inspiring them to succeed as we follow the same path to the finish line.