If you weren’t “King” would your people be following you?

Are people following you because of your “kingly” title or because of your leadership? Be careful how you answer, it may not be the one you think. Looking at it through another lens and to quote John Maxwell, “He that thinketh he leadeth, and hath no one following, is only taking a walk.”

One of the areas I’ve grown the most in leadership is through leadership roles in volunteer organizations. Yes, you find out quickly how effective you truly are as a leader in these environments. It’s during these times that you become much more aware of what some term “positional” leadership versus having “volunteer” followers.

As much as I felt I was a “servant” leader and had “voluntary” followers throughout the first twenty years of my career, I have later determined that my leadership was much more “positional” during those times than I would have ever given credit. Positional leadership is exactly what it sounds, the only reason people are following you is you have the title. At the point you lose your “kingly” title, will your followers continue to follow you? I’m guessing that, in the majority of the cases, the truth is “no” which is at the core of the challenge I’m offering today.

What are some of the keys characteristics in developing “voluntary” followers? First, we’ve all heard Theodore Roosevelt’s quote at some point along the way: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” To create “voluntary” followers, this is an absolute necessity. Followers must absolutely know that you care for them. They must sense that you are there to authentically serve them versus just using them to achieve something you desire, like your next promotion.

Yes, “voluntary” followers are always built on “relationships”. The majority of the time, these “relationships” take time and are a lot of hard work. Like close relationships with a spouse, child, or other loved ones, we must bring things like love, humility, grace, patience, and self control to create “voluntary” followers.

Another key to these relationships is that we must become authentic truth tellers. Yes, we must learn how to open up and bring vulnerability to the relationships to create “voluntary” followers. We must be able to say, “I messed up” and “would you forgive me?” as a leader. Additionally, we must authentically share in a kind manner where aspects of the relationship with the follower aren’t meeting our expectations.

Finally, you kinda have to be enjoyable to be around. “Kingly” personalities sometimes are too focused at the task at hand and simply are not “fun” people. No, you don’t have to always be the life of the party as other personalities will fulfill that role; however, don’t be so serious all the time. You’ll find that when people enjoy being around you, they also will enjoy following you to areas one never thought they could achieve.

Well, by no means is this a comprehensive list, however, hopefully it has caused you to stop and ponder a bit. Additionally, if not already, may this be an encouragement to consider a leadership role in a volunteer organization. I guarantee serving in this manner will elevate your leadership.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blog Home

How can I serve you?