Help Them Follow You–Part 2

Tips to Keep Your Audience

You've got the vision, but do you have a willing crowd to help you achieve it?

OK, so if you’ve been following along, here are more ways to keep your pack following you…

Make a decision.  Other than having a clueless leader, an indecisive one is probably the worst thing that could happen to anyone.  Don’t be afraid to make a decision.  A lot of leading is based in gut decision making.  Yes, you analyze and take calculated risks, but sometimes, your gut goes against logic.  I’ve found that usually the gut check is your internal mechanism for keeping you from making bad decisions.  Sometimes, your gut feeling defies all logic and anything else that makes sense.  If you have explored all your options and even the best ones don’t give you the same feeling of  “yes, that’s it” as the gut feeling, go with your gut.

Even if you decide to take the calculated risk, that’s fine.  I do suggest that you have a good team and not a bunch of “yes men” that just agree with you because they are afraid to disagree.  Whatever the decision and no matter how your reach it, make one!   In the event that you make a bad decision, you have the opportunity for transparency with your team and to draw on their knowledge pool in order to make a better decision next time.

Fairness is a topic that deserves space here because so many times, favoritism is brutally apparent. Be fair to your followers, no matter what their official classification is (employee, volunteers, students, etc.).  You cannot expect to be respected as a leader when your followers see you giving extra privileges to certain people.  Yes, there are certain perks that come with performance, but these should be clearly outlined.  Yes, there are employees or other followers that are ready to be groomed for leadership, etc. and require extra attention. In these instances, it should be understood what is happening and why.

On the flip side of favoritism, is overload.  When there is an employee that does and excellent job at a task (or multiple tasks), consistently giving him or her more work is a little unfair.  Understanding that they do an excellent job at something is not a license to overload them when others do not have as heavy of a load (especially when you expect this person to keep up with all their regular work, too).  As the leader, you have to see the big picture and understand what is really happening–that employee is doing you a favor.  Reciprocate that by relieving them of some of their regular workload.

Even (or as close to even as possible) distribution is important for several reasons.  First, because you want to keep that wonderful employee.  If the employee feels as if their workload is too heavy for the compensation (monetary or otherwise) they receive, they will most likely start to look for other employment. You also don’t want that employee to feel under-appreciated because the calibre of the work may decrease.  Finally, you don’t want other employees to think that it is OK not to do their fair share.  Everyone under your charge should have a good understanding of what is expected of them.  There should not be a way (other than via unemployment or sickness) to negate their responsibilities at work.

Finally, leaders must communicate effectively.  As a leader, you have to be able to communicate with your people.  In order to do that, you have to be accessible (that’s a topic all by itself for another day). Leave the” corporate speak” and be human. Listen to what your people have to say.  Steven Covey says that we should, “seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  Furthermore, be clear about your message.  Don’t create a situation where your followers have to assume what you mean.  Be brief.  No one wants to listen to a windbag. Make your point, already!  If you don’t, they will start to tune you out.  Once these long-winded babbles happen so often, you’ll lose your audience at the very beginning.  They will know what to expect, so instead of expecting something different, they go off of prior experience and tune you out from the beginning.  Not a good thing…

Just understanding that your followers are human just like you and that they fall victim to the same fallacies as you will help you help them to keep following you.  If you are a person that doesn’t like to hear long, drawn out, BORING speeches, don’t give them! If you don’t like to be talked down to, don’t do it to your followers. If you don’t like to be implored to do a bunch of unreciprocated favors, don’t ask others to. Finally, if you don’t want to lose your supporters, give them reasons to keep hanging on to your every word.

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