Forerunner: Are You a Leader That People Want to Follow?

fore·run·ner/ noun

  1. a person or thing that precedes the coming or development of someone or something else.
  2. a sign of something to come.
  3. An advance messenger

A Forerunner is a frontrunner. Someone who leads the way. Someone who not only “knows” what they’re doing and do it well, but someone who lives in such a way as to have you say, “I admire him or her”, something about them; it’s recognizable.

“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily, even if you had no title or position. Conduct a personal assessment and ask yourself, ”Would I follow me?” – Brian Tracy

Following are 7 ways you can become a leader people actually want to follow — not just a leader people follow because they have to.

1. Show respect to those around you (even when you don’t feel like it).

It’s easy to be respectful when you’re working with motivated team members or favorite clients. But what about with someone who eats up your time (and patience) with unrealistic requests? Or the one who showed up late – again?

True respect doesn’t depend on the other person doing something (or not doing something). It means recognizing that all people are inherently worthy of respect; even people who drive you crazy or who haven’t done a single thing to earn it. It means treating people in a way that preserves their dignity and honors their value as a person.

When you show respect to everyone you interact with, you foster an environment of caring that permeates the environment. It encourages your team to treat everyone with the same respect they’ve seen you model.

2. Communicate in a way that not only informs, but inspires.

Good leaders know that communicating clearly and concisely is important for avoiding conflict and articulating expectations. But great leaders understand that communication is about more than just getting across an accurate message.

Communication must be efficient and informative, but it can also be used as a way to inspire, motivate and persuade. When you can communicate in a way that a particular outcome is achieved or a certain action is taken, this is when the true impact of great communication shows. In the words of General Dwight Eisenhower, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because they want to do it.”

3. Be generous with time, encouragement and responsibility.

When we think of being generous, we often think of monetary generosity; of keeping people happy by giving gifts, bonuses, etc. And while this is certainly one aspect of generosity, it can be far more.

True generosity involves being liberal with praise and encouragement; of giving team members the appropriate credit when they have a great idea; of being gracious when people make mistakes. It can also mean letting go of some of the control and giving those around you the chance to take on extra responsibility.

Being generous means giving without thoughts of what someone can do for you in return: “Listen with regard when others talk. Give your time and energy to others; let others have their own way; do things for reasons other than furthering your own needs.” — Larry Scherwitz.

4. Express your passion because that’s how passion spreads.

True passion is contagious. When you’re genuinely excited about what you’re doing, your enthusiasm can’t help but rub off on those around you. But being passionate about something isn’t quite enough; you also need to express and live your passion to those around you.

Deep passion indicates a high level of ownership.

When your team members sense that you have a deep and abiding passion for what you do, they get the sense that what they’re doing is worthwhile; that you’re all on the path towards something bigger and greater than yourselves.

Lead the way from the heart, principals, values, virtues, character and integrity, the right people will follow you. Leading with your talents, charisma or even gifts is not enough; just as being financially successful alone is not enough.

5. Be humble. (This doesn’t mean being a pushover).

Being humble in the workplace doesn’t equate to not taking credit for your work or ideas, or to letting others walk all over you. What it does mean is taking responsibility for your mistakes, and acknowledging when your followers can do something better than you.

In a study published in the Academy of Management Journal, researchers reported that humble leaders were overall more effective and better liked. Co-author of the study, Bradley Owens, writes:

Growing and learning often involves failure and can be embarrassing, but leaders who can overcome their fears and broadcast their feelings as they work through the messy internal growth process will be viewed more favorably by their followers. They also will legitimize their followers’ own growth journeys and will have higher-performing organizations.”

6. Be decisive and take responsibility for your decisions.

Great leaders make tough decisions, and then take responsibility for the outcomes of those decisions. No matter how carefully a decision is analyzed and the resultant impacts weighed, poor decisions are bound to be made, and someone has to be accountable.

A ‘follow-worthy’ leader, or forerunner, isn’t afraid to make these decisions, and knows that avoiding risk also means forfeiting potential opportunities. She or he seeks out the opinions of those around them in order to make an informed decision, but then takes the final responsibility for the outcome squarely on themselves.

7. Show courage even when you’re scared.

All leaders will be scared from time to time – scared of risk, failure and competition. But inspiring leaders forge ahead in spite of this fear, and show courage in the face of adversity. They are confident not only in their abilities, but in who they are. They are in touch with their heads and their hearts, and have a strong emotional and spiritual foundation. Their lives, while not perfect, are accountable to leaders above them. If you’re on top, you still need accountability over you. Proverbs tells us, ” there is safety in a multitude of counselors.”

Mark Twain wrote, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” Great leaders find ways to harness the energy produced by fear, and turn it into something that propels them forward. They show courage, and encourage those around them to do the same.

Courageous leaders know they’re nothing without their team, and are willing to admit they don’t know everything. They understand that sometimes their decisions will be unpopular, and yet they choose to lead regardless.

The character and skills needed to be a forerunner leader may not come naturally to all of us, but they can be cultivated and practiced over time. And when those around you witness your efforts, you unwittingly create a culture and ethos of generosity, respect and loyalty.

BH / Source: Business Insider-Adaptation

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