do you speak leader to followers?

Posted on Monday.5.4.2009


If you’re already a leader at your job or whatever team it is that you’re leading (or wanting to lead)…do your followers need to translate what you’re saying?

The more leaders I talk to and am around (good and bad) there’s always one constant, leaders communicate. The most important thing a leader must do is communicate to his team and most leaders I know (or read about) do a great job of inspiring and motivating me to be my best whether it’s in an article, a speaking engagement or a meeting. But I realized something, I speak leader and love those who also speak leader. Words like vision, setting big goals, results, management, success, inspiration, mission statement, best practices…these are words leaders use and leaders love. But is that your team needs to hear?

I think if you’re leading a group of leaders those words will be cut up, chewed on and enjoyed like a wonderfully prepared New York steak. But, if you’re leading followers (or non-leader types, which most leaders do) these words can sound like flaxseed, they know it’s good for them but they wouldn’t choose to eat it on their own, some might even reject taking it all together. When you communicate to your team, don’t you want every speech, meeting or conference to taste like a succulent steak? If you’re vegetarian, help me fill in the blank, I have no idea what the pinnacle veggie meal would be…

Every leader wants their team to succeed. I think a lot of leaders though lead or communicate like they want to be led or communicated to…but that’s the problem, leaders speak leader too much. Here’s some suggestions:

1. Learn the language of followers. What are they saying at the “water cooler” when you’re not there? What are they talking about, complaining about? What matters most to them? It’s important to know HOW they talk about their jobs and what they value.
2. Remove obstacles. Most followers want to succeed, they want to do well. What can you do make that job easier for them? They don’t want more things to do, more goals to set, they want to succeed but remove all the excess from what they think is already convoluted with visions and mission statements that don’t matter to them.
3. Keep meetings to a minimum. If you can communicate it in an email, do it. Don’t write out an agenda for a meeting with notes that you’re going to read from. If you’re reading from notes, send it out before or after and communicate your rationale instead of the bullets.
4. See the heart. Your follower is a person, not a results factory. The more you know what’s going on with them on a personal level and have genuine care for them, the more they will feel energized to produce. If someone on your team is going through a messy situation and you meet with them to talk about production, they don’t care, they jus want to be out of that meeting. It’ll also give you great insight on rule 1.

Posted in: success