Be careful. Don’t answer too quickly. The easy answer is “Yes, of course I am. After all, I’m Manager So and So at Company XYZ.”
But at the heart of leadership, we know title has nothing to do with being a leader. In an era where a stories of scandal or company disappointments are commonplace, pausing to reflect on this question is critical for personal success.
Consider three truths that contribute to your followership:
#1 If they don’t believe the messenger, they won’t believe the message.
Every statement we make passes through two filters. Our employees don’t actually hear what we are saying until they determine [subconsciously] if they trust you. If that answer is yes, then they can quickly assess what we are saying. If the answer to that question is no, then it doesn’t matter if we are sharing good news or bad news. There is no confidence in the message if they can’t get past the person delivering the message.
#2 Reality: you are on stage 24/7.
It may not be fair, but it’s true. As a leader, you are on stage ALL the time. Your team watches how you live your life both in the office and outside the organization. Your credibility is actually tested more by the things you don’t say (for example, not throwing a teammate under the proverbial bus), or how you respond when conflict arise or a dilemma occurs. It’s in those moments employees decide if you really are who you say you are.
#3 The soldiers on the ground always know.
Do you want to know if you are worth following? The answer is actually not yours to give. Your team determines that outcome. Your employees, a.k.a. soldiers, are the real recipients of your leadership. They know if you do what you say. They know if you have their best interests at heart. And they know if you are “worth it”.
So, are you brave enough to tackle this question? It’s answer will make the difference in your leadership future.