Great advice on a critical aspect of leadership

Bad bosses are oblivious to the fact that leading people requires humility, savvy, authenticity, and keen interpersonal skills, according to Jeb Blount in his book People Follow You: the Real Secret to What Matters Most in Leadership. Many organizations have elaborate incentive schemes in place designed to improve employee satisfaction and retention, yet fail to deal with the one thing which causes most employee dissatisfaction: poor leadership.

The book provides a broad range of leadership wisdom, including:

  • Leadership success is directly related to the quality of the relationships that leaders build and sustain with the people they lead.
  • You need your people more than they need you.
  • Because you are the boss, people watch and analyse your every move, looking for meaning and clues as to what you are thinking.
  • If you put the interests of your followers before your own, that helps you build an emotional connection which opens them to accepting your coaching and directing.
  • Leaders maximise their own performance by doing whatever it takes to help their followers be more successful.
  • Trust between leaders and followers is built by leaders doing what they say they will do, keeping promises, and behaving in a consistent and professional manner.
  • Positive emotional experiences strengthen a relationship and engender loyalty sufficient to withstand difficult conditions.

There are many different books on leadership, offering many different opinions about what leaders should and should not do. In my opinion this book is one of the better ones. Instead of prescribing a broad variety of different actions that leaders are supposed to take, it concentrates on the critical aspect of leadership which is most often overlooked: the relationship which a leader has with his or her followers. I would recommend this book to anyone who is responsible for supervising someone else.

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