by William “Bill” Brashers, Ph.D., Featured Contributor
[su_dropcap style=”flat”]L[/su_dropcap]EADERSHIP IS THE ROUTE to influencing employees to do things beyond your power to command. Why are some employees willing to “go through a fire” for a certain leader for no more pay? The answer was given to me by a front line worker at an oil refinery. He said, “Because he’d do the same for me.” Succinct and elegant.
You’re not a leader until you have a follower. You can be a leader-wanna-be, or a leader-in-name-only (LINO); but until someone chooses to follow you, you’re leading precisely no one. To become a leader, you need to win a following. Just in case you’re looking for the Fundamental Secret of Leadership, here it is:
Followers follow Leaders because Leaders help followers do and get things they couldn’t without the leader.
Hang on—before you blow by the sentence above as common sense, ask yourself, “If I had a leader that did that, wouldn’t I return the favor and make it worth his/her while?” We’re all experiencing a Leadership Renaissance in the English speaking workplace. It’s not that leadership is new, but we’re rediscovering it as if for the first time.
Followers go the extra mile for their leaders because they make it worth it to do so. For most employees, the non-financial paycheck (what we have come to call the “psychic paycheck”) is as important as the dollars. Can you think of a job you wouldn’t do no matter what the pay? Can you think of something you’d love to do even if you couldn’t get paid for it? My guess is you can. That’s the idea of the psychic paycheck. For some it’s the opportunity to learn. For others it may be the fun of solving problems. Others like the feeling of being valuable through doing good work.
You may have noticed the exploding list of leadership publications online and in bookstores. Those of us who have been around a little longer (ahem!) will remember there weren’t many available before 1995. The academic leadership-theory-wars of the 1980s are over. Servant Leadership won. Thank Toyota’s “Lean Legacy” for this. The surprise is that this is the way leadership has always worked. We just forgot.