Projects and paperwork are managed, but people are led. If we lead well — people will follow. A title does not make a leader. A leader is someone others want to follow. So, what makes a leader attractive?

What Makes a Leader Attractive? 

Someone who has both the employees’ and the company’s best interests at heart

Training, setting goals, and giving expectations all make for a leader people will want to follow. Sharing a vision and a plan — even more so. When a leader can get the job done, show pride in the work, and have fun doing it, they are almost irresistible.

Someone who readily hands out recognition

Recently, a manager bragged to me about a member of his team, describing in detail how they took initiative. I asked the manager how the employee reacted when he was told this. The employee hadn’t been told. If you want people to repeat positive activities – recognize the behavior. Most will follow your lead.

Someone people can talk to — who listens

This is not complicated. Listen to ideas and keep an open mind. That’s it. While it’s a compliment to be asked to listen to your teammates’ non-work related concerns — don’t let it interfere with getting the job done. Unless they directly affect work, consider taking non-work related conversations to lunch or after hours.

Someone who includes teammates 

If you want to build a team, make every member part of the team. Seek input, ideas, and advice. Promote plans as team initiatives by involving the team in the planning. If you want followers, don’t just tell people what to do, but show them how to do it and explain why it’s done that way.

Someone who treats others fairly

This is often confused. Fair doesn’t have to be equal, but should be equitable. Don’t play favorites, but if tenured teammates deserve consideration because of their accumulated contributions – give it to them. It would be unfair to treat a dependable, tenured teammate the same as an unproven new employee.

Someone who sets a good example

Keep in mind, your direct reports will often copy your weaknesses before they copy your strengths. Believe me, they watch and learn. Teach them traits you admire through your actions. If you relish team members with character traits such as dependability, loyalty, honesty, attentiveness, and thoroughness – demonstrate those characteristics to your team.

Leadership is service. It’s about giving, not taking. To be a leader, you must attract followers. To attract followers, people must know you care.

Your direct reports should be more efficient because of your leadership, not the other way around. Do you help others become better at what they do? Are you someone others want to follow because they know they can count on you? Ask yourself – “would you follow you?”

But what makes someone unattractive as a leader? And what should people in leadership avoid? Regardless of your position, title, or role, if people don’t want to follow you of their own accord, you’re not a leader. A leader has followers — do you?

7 Activities to Avoid 

1. Finger-pointing

One of the quickest and surest ways to lose followers is to finger point. Even if it’s warranted, it will not solve anything. Rather than finger point, find solutions. If someone requires a critique, do it privately, and make it a teaching opportunity. Take the emotions out of it, and don’t make it personal. It’s not who’s right, it’s what’s right. The only person a leader should point a finger at is themselves.

2. Self-serving

Leadership is service. True leaders take on the responsibility of serving others. Anyone who accepts a leadership role, strictly for personal gain, is doomed to fail. The success of those who enjoy helping others is measured by the followers they serve. Leadership means putting others first.

3. Playing Games

Political maneuvering, pitting one against the other, and withholding information are not games followers enjoy. Those who are not forthright, honest, and open will not gain followers.

4. Creating Drama

There’s enough real-life drama in life without creating more. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. Not everything is urgent, and if you make it so, you become the boy who cried wolf. People seldom follow drama queens or kings.

5. Negative no-saying

If you tell others what can’t be done, that’s what will happen. Those who are quick to point out the down side become energy vampires draining the drive out of teams. Followers don’t want to constantly hear what’s bad or wrong.

6. Not making decisions

Leaders are not wishy-washy, they make decisions based on the best information available and lead others in their vision.

7. Getting angry

If you want to lose followers, get mad at them. Bullying will only push them away from you. It’s never worked in leadership, and while it was more prominent in past, it’s no longer acceptable. Hold it in, don’t do it, or don’t try to lead.

This post was easy for me to write, because at one time or another, I’ve done every single one of these. You can be like me and learn the hard way, or simply strive to avoid these 7 activities. Believe me, the latter is easier.

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a  management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash