Leadership by definition is about a Leader taking a group of Followers to a defined destination. Without followers, or the destination, the ‘Leader’ is just a person going for a walk! The first step in Leadership is to get the followers to WANT to follow the Leader – to be the type of Leader a Team will respect and want to follow. This article gives useful Leadership skills and tips to help to win Team Members’ trust and respect.

Effective Leadership is essential at any level of Management in Business. From the newly appointed Supervisor to the Senior Company Director, the core role of a Leader is surprisingly very similar. The Leader is responsible for Leading the Followers, their Team, and taking them to a predetermined destination. HOW the Leader gets the Team there, how they achieve their own and their Team’s objectives, is the complex bit – involving the effective use of lots of Leadership skills, processes, motivators and tools. The beginning is very simple – win over your Team Members.

Where many Leaders become very ineffective, and fail, is in not understanding this very first step. If I have not won over my Team Members individually, and my Team as a group, then all the later steps will not work effectively. The first set of Leadership Skills involve winning over your Team Members, persuading people to work with you and later persuading them to go in the direction the you need them to go.

Who do People Follow?
At a very basic level, people follow people they know. If I don’t know you, I can’t trust you or respect you. Take time to BOND with each of your Team members, and build a habit of doing this with each of your Team members on an ongoing basis – not just new recruits.

Bonding is where we get to know each other. We spend a short time socialising, talking about non-work topics. It might only be 10-15minutes each week, but this is our one-to-one ‘personal time’ and it is time well spent. Here the Leader gives this Team Member their undivided attention, listening, showing interest and gaining a good understanding of how this person ticks. We are not ‘buddies’, the relationship is still Leader / Team Member. Also be careful to bond with all Team members equally – to avoid favouritism or isolating someone.

People Follow Someone they Respect
People also follow people who they can respect, and who respects them. The next step for the Leader is to spend time with each Team Member discussing their work and their performance. This is one-to-one time, but now we are talking about work rather than non-work. The Leader listens to the Team Member as he or she talks about their goals, performance, strengths, and achievements.

The Leader is showing an interest and demonstrating respect for the Team Member, praising achievements and suggesting possible next steps. The Leader is also positioning themselves in these one-to-one performance discussions as the Leader, worthy of respect. These sessions will later become coaching and mentoring sessions. But at first they are establishing the Leader – Team Member relationship.

Why do People Follow?
People follow the Leader firstly, if she is worth respecting – and secondly, if she is going somewhere I would want to go. The Follower will want to know where exactly you want me to go – what is the goal? They will also want to know why - what is in it for me if I go there? I will follow if I think this is worth doing and it is feasible – the goal and strategy to get there is doable.

This is what the Leader must satisfy in order to persuade the Team and each Team member to work with them. The best Leaders are skilled at painting that forward vision of where we are going – painting it as an attractive picture that is worth working for. To do this they must pitch the goal appropriately for this person or the Team at this point in time, using terms that would be attractive for this person.

They also persuade the Team Members WHY they should work towards this goal. What are the benefits of this goal – why it is good for the Company, good for the Customer, the Team and me, the Team member?

An important Leadership skill is the ability to deliver a motivational, goal setting talk to a Team Member or the whole Team. Both the goal and the talk is always planned and prepared carefully. The Leader’s time spent bonding with Team Members and building mutual trust and respect will be really useful here. The Leader’s personal knowledge of individuals will help ensure that the goal is appropriate, and the talk can be pitched perfectly. Equally, the personal knowledge will help the Leader AVOID saying something that would alienate or disrespect any Team Members. The benefits of the goal can be expressed using examples and language style that will appeal to this individual or the Team.

Winning over the Team and persuading them that the goal is worth following are the starting points in effective Leadership.

Author's Bio: 

Kate Tammemagi is a Consultant and Trainer with Focus Training. She has extensive experience designing and delivering customized Leadership Training Courses and Supervisor Training Courses.