I’m sure there are a plethora of reasons for someone to follow a leader. Here are a few that come to mind:

1.  Charisma

2.  The ability to open future doors of opportunity for me and others

3.  A perceived young and rising star

4.  Success

5.  The potential of lots of money

6.  The chance to have broad influence and impact

Here are two reasons for people to follow your leadership that I believe are biblically legitimate and longer lasting:

Who’s following you and why?

1.  They trust in and respect who you are

I’ve come to the conclusion that who people perceive you to actually be is the beginning point for all true and lasting followership. Who you are as a leader is more important than what you do. Put another way; what you do as a leader needs to flow out of who you are as a leader. When surveys are done as to what people want in a leader, it invariably boils down to character traits such as integrity, compassion, consistency, and fairness. When people don’t see certain character traits consistently lived out, trust slowly disappears and credibility is soon a thing of the past.

When they see these same character traits lived out, trust is built, respect increases and credible is established. Unfortunately we live in a time where leaders spend more time working on competency rather than character and a fall may soon be on the cusp when success outstrips character. When there is trust and respect from the top down, a positive and safe culture results and this sets the stage for a vision that gets people excited and motivated to show up and work hard and enthusiastically  day after day, week after week.

2.  They believe in and are excited about where you’re going

Vision is important…very important! When I conduct my “Leaders Who Last” seminars we spend a third of the time on a compelling vision. Once again, this vision needs to flow out of the life of the leader(s) in the organization. You may have sterling character and demonstrated that you can be trusted and counted on, but if you’re not going somewhere, it’s just a matter of time until people lose interest in following.

I believe people intrinsically want to make a difference. They want to be a part of something bigger than they are; a vision that is exciting and catalytic. This along with a culture that is safe and inviting builds the foundation to lots of good things happening.

In the early days of Apple, Steve Jobs invited John Scully (head of PepsiCo) to lunch to ask him, yet again, to leave his role with Pepsi and join Steve at Apple. Frustrated at John having turned him down previously Steve, in desperation, asked him if he wanted to spend the rest of his life making colored water or come to Apple and help him change the world.

John’s response was that changing the world was rather a heady thought. He subsequently left and joined Apple.  The rest, as they say, is history. That’s the power of vision; something big, inviting and exciting!

As a leader how are you doing on being a person followers can trust and respect due to strong character traits?

How are you doing with your leadership team in dreaming big dreams of a visionary nature which people can believe in and get excited about?