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Who are you as a Leader?

February 7, 2010

Leaders need followers, someone to guide and show the way. You can’t make someone follow you, they have to want to, to be inspired – filled with life and open to possibilities. Only then can change happen.

So why would someone choose to follow you? Followers follow Leaders they trust. And how do you know why to trust someone – because you know what they stand for. Great Leaders let us know why they are doing what they are doing – not what they are doing. They tell us their story, what motivates them, what’s their purpose. They are compelling because they have a great story and a story that is true to them. This makes them believable and memorable. They give us something to hook into, something with which to make an emotional connection.

In the last US election, Obama connected with the world by telling us his story

“When I was growing up, my father was often at sea, and the job of raising my brother, sister and me would fall to my mother alone. Roberta McCain gave us her love of life, her deep interest in the world, her strength, and her belief we are all meant to use our opportunities to make ourselves useful to our country”

and that he was about bringing hope and opportunity – “Each of us can pursue our individual dreams”. McCain told us what he was going to do – he was going to fight. Fight for what?

Great Leaders move us, bring momentum and add a dynamic to the conversation or the debate.  Terry Pratchett, the author and reluctant Leader for people with Alzheimer’s, gave an impassioned plea in his Richard Dimbelby lectures for a good death. Whether or not you agree with his cause, you know what he believes in and know that he has authenticity. Great Leaders don’t sit on the fence; they tell you what they stand for.

Great Leaders are about purpose and belief. How did you last introduce yourself? If you introduced yourself as a job title – you just told someone a fact – not your story and you missed an opportunity for your potential follower to connect with you.

What’s stopping you? Create the opportunity – take people on a journey – give them a reason to go with you. Tell them how you are going to make a difference

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