When No One’s Following Your Lead

March 2, 2010 - Mac Lake - Leadership
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There are many people who hold a position of leadership but don’t hold the power of leadership.  If no one is following you then you’re not really leading.  I was speaking on The Urgency of Leadership at a conference recently when a young lady came up afterward and asked, “What do I do if no one is following me?”  She explained how she had been on staff at a church for one year but had been unable to make significant progress because her team just didn’t seem to be responding to her leadership.  If you find yourself struggling with this same issue here are a few questions to consider.

  • Is it a Relational Problem?  Influence generally begins with relationship.  The greater the level of relationship the greater the potential for influence.  Perhaps others are not following because they don’t feel like you know them or like they know you. 
  • Is it a Credibility Problem?  Trust is the most important element in the leader- follower relationship.  So when a leader acts in a way that damages trust people will not follow.  There are many factors that can damage a leaders credibility: a lack of experience, lack of integrity, lack of follow-up or lack of follow through.  A leader must do all he can to guard his integrity because once it’s lost he’s lost his influence as well. 
  • Is it a Vision Problem?  Having a vision is not enough.  As leaders we must show people how their gifts and strengths fit into that vision.  It’s not hearing, “we want to baptize 100 people”, “build a new bulding” or “transform a local neighborhood” that excites people.  It’s seeing how they can help contribute to the vision that ignites their passion.  People aren’t interested in just sitting by and watching “your vision” happen, they want to be a part of a God thing. 
  • Is it a Performance Problem?  People will not follow incompetent leaders.  If they sense you don’t have leadership competency they will subtly or not so subtly distance themselves from you.  This is why it’s important for every leader to have a commitment to self-development.   
  • Is it an Empowerment Problem?  Be aware and maximize the strengths of those on your team.  If we don’t pay attention to the giftings of our team members then we tend to treat everyone the same.  This is a recipe for frustration.  Simply giving out tasks makes people feel like a cog in a machine.  But when a leader asks someone to use their gift to make a difference it electrifies their involvement.   
  • Is it a Development Problem?  Leaders are responsible for coaching their followers job performance.  An underdeveloped team member easily  becomes complacent.  One of the most important things a leader can do is ask questions, listen and coach the individuals on their team.  This makes people feel valued and increases their desire to make you successful as well.

What else would you add to this list?

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Mac Lake

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3 responses to When No One’s Following Your Lead

  1. Unfortunately, most people will not confront a leader and share why leadership is not being followed. Additional reasons include:
    1. Followers who refuse to follow. Some individuals will not recognize leadership no matter the circumstances.
    2. Leaders who refuse to lead. Some people placed in leadership positions refuse to trust, and end up doing everything themselves.
    3. Too many requirements placed on a leader from their leadership. Many times a “leader”is in actuality only a manager, and doesn’t possess the authority to truly lead. There is a big difference between being a leader and being a manager.

  2. Good insights, thanks for adding to the list!!

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