If you want people to follow you, you have to ascend the leadership ladder, rung by rung. If you skip a rung, you won’t get to the top. Here is a brief description of the rungs:
Title: Someone gave you a title! Whoo hoo! You’ve arrived! Only – you’re not the leader yet; not even close. Your title merely suspends the team’s cynicism temporarily. Your title is, at best, a running start. Welcome to your 30-day honeymoon.
Thumbs up: If, while on your 30-day honeymoon, you prove that you can make life better for your team, they’ll give you a tentative thumbs-up. As you stay the course, the thumbs-up gets stronger. Once you’ve got their full consent, you can start to get something done.
Traction: Now that your team fully believes in you, you’re going to start to produce.
If, as leader you get hung up, it’s almost always between Title and Thumbs-up. Think of a young guy who buys a girl a ring, marries her, and then gets busy finding work and getting a mortgage and forgets about getting her Thumbs-up. It doesn’t work. He’s got to earn that role of husband. It isn’t automatically awarded just because he went through a wedding ceremony.
Here are some behaviours that earn your way from Title to Thumbs-up
- Keeping your promises
- Leading by example
- Caring for those around you
- Getting involved, not issuing orders
- Working harder than you expect your team to
- Helping find solutions
- Showing fairness
- Listening first to understand, then to be understood
Bear in mind that when you bring a new person to the team, you start at the bottom rung with them, and have to earn their thumbs-up all over again. Be patient, and keep climbing. You will get there!