5 Things To Do To Become A Leader Worth Following

Asian leader presenting to her team

You’ve probably met different kinds of leaders throughout your professional career. You may have had good, well-intentioned individuals who genuinely supported you inside and outside the workplace. You may have also experienced difficult leaders who sapped your motivation or made you feel inadequate. Eventually, you’ve taken on a managerial role yourself and designed your leadership style, mirroring some traits and avoiding others from your previous leaders.


Leadership is not just about giving orders or being at the helm of a group. It goes beyond holding a high-ranking position and having a team to manage. It requires profound understanding, empathy, wisdom, and the ability to influence others in positive ways. There is no single leadership style that answers all of your organization’s problems, but there are certain leadership qualities that resonate with most people and make it easier for them to rally behind you.


Here are 5 reminders for leaders that are worth holding yourself accountable to whatever your leadership style is and wherever you are in the hierarchy of your organization.


  1. Ask Why You Are Worth Following


When was the last time you asked yourself, “Am I a leader worth following?”. A lot of leaders out there never stop to reflect on this. It’s easy to take your managerial or executive position for granted because you probably earned it through a much-deserved promotion or a tactical career move. It’s an essential question every leader should ask themselves periodically. This self-reflection helps identify strengths and areas for improvement, and charts a course for personal development.


Don’t get lost in your day-to-day deliverables and annual targets. Humanize the value you give to your organization and your people.


Identify your values and make sure they align with your actions. Solicit feedback from your team, allowing them to express their views honestly. Continually improve yourself personally and professionally, setting an example for your team.


  1. Make Those Around You Better


A true leader cultivates an environment where everyone thrives. By fostering growth in others, you demonstrate your commitment to their success, which in turn inspires loyalty and higher performance levels. In the book Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, researchers Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown argue that leaders worth following are individuals who empower those they work with. They cite real examples of poor performance attributable to leaders who may be geniuses in the field, but who notoriously want to be right all the time, shooting down other people’s ideas and micromanaging everything.


In Wiseman’s words, “Be a genius-maker”. Support your people in applying their talents and skills with autonomy. Encourage them to seek answers and create solutions. Inspire continuous learning and provide opportunities for skills development. Celebrate the successes and contributions of team members openly.


  1. Adjust to Your Team’s Culture


This closely ties with the idea that no single leadership style is the best. A leader who is savvy with his or her approach to motivating a team of diverse individuals, who knows how to respond to individual needs and problems, and who understands how NOT to engage with his or her team—is a leader that people will genuinely connect with. Understanding your team’s culture is vital for successful leadership. Don’t just celebrate diversity and promote inclusivity; also understand what energizes your people and what affects their morale, and adjust your leadership approach from there.


Regularly engage in open discussions with your team about their needs and aspirations. Promote activities that enhance relationships and teamwork. Show respect for different beliefs, preferences, and perspectives within your team.


  1. Recognize Individuality: Each Person Is Different


Team culture is a beautiful thing because of the individuality that every team member brings to that culture. Each person in your team brings unique experiences and perspectives to the table. Recognizing this individuality allows you to lead with empathy and fairness.


Remember that people’s emotions are valid parts of a culture too. As much as we emphasize rationality when it comes to work performance, emotions reveal certain truths that should not be left unattended. Emotions drive motivation, decision-making, creativity, and even productivity.


Take time to know each team member on a personal level. Adapt communication styles based on individual preferences. Provide personalized guidance for career progress. Encourage open dialogue about feelings without judgment. Use emotional intelligence tools such as active listening, empathy, and compassion in daily interactions. Foster emotional well-being by providing supportive resources when necessary.


  1. Don’t Give All the Answers


As a leader, it’s easy to think you have or need to have the answers all the time. We all have our own biases, filters, and defenses that affect how we process the information we receive and how we communicate our understanding. Instead of offering solutions directly—which you won’t always have—guide discussions that help employees approach problems creatively. Elicit answers that others would not voluntarily share otherwise—in other words, listen to what’s unsaid.


Build confidence among employees by encouraging independent thinking. Let them find the answers and create their solutions. It allows teams to feel valued, enhances problem-solving abilities, and promotes creativity.


Final Thoughts


Leadership is rarely a straightforward affair. Just follow a certain set of instructions on how to lead and you’re good to go? Certainly not the case for everyone. But the five reminders mentioned above are there to ground you as a person that people need to look up to. In case you haven’t noticed, these five reminders are outward-oriented; they are not focused entirely on you, what you know, and who you should be to become a leader worth following. Leadership is about properly relating to your team and the people around you. You can do this by careful introspection, empowering others, understanding culture, knowing someone on an individual basis, and sometimes, letting others take the lead.

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