Good followers make good leaders
Written by: Renée LeMoine
Photo by: Ivan Malý
Recently, I hired a new sales associate that asks so many questions that she keeps me from getting my own work done. How can I get her to think for herself?
A new employee asking many questions is a positive sign, demonstrating interest, determination, and motivation. Take advantage of her ambitions and use them to guide her toward a leadership style that is compatible with your ideal corporate culture.
While you should encourage staff to think for themselves, don’t overlook the fact that managers get things done through others. If the staff isn’t up to the task, then the manager fails. So, successful managers rely on successful followers.
– Build competence in key areas and keep efforts focused for maximum impact. In-house training courses are an efficient way to communicate company philosophy, strategy, and rules. When you include a component that introduces new employees to existing staff through team-building courses, they can see themselves within the organization rather than outside it. It also heartens new staff to identify key persons, other than yourself, who can share ideas, information, and sales tactics with them. This can free up a lot of your time, while insuring that the employee is building a network and becoming integrated.
– Model exceptional behavior. If you come to the office ten minutes late, or fail to fulfill promises, employees will reflect these behaviors. Conversely, the opposite – working hard and showing interest in their projects – will also serve as a reference. As a leader you are always “on the air”; use it to your advantage.
– Give her the opportunity to manage herself. As she masters primary skills and understands the most effective methodologies for utilizing them to increase sales, her confidence will grow. As you see her development maturing, urge her to find new ways to deal with old problems. Stimulating creative thinking is useful for bringing in fresh and unique perspectives into an organization.
– Inspire her to find a purpose outside herself. Effective followers are committed to something – a product, a project team, or an idea. Most people like working with colleagues who are both emotionally and physically committed to their work.
Article prepared by Renée LeMoine, Executive Director, LeMoine & Associates .