Leadership From The Follower’s Perspective

I believe that leadership is our scarcest resource and yet our most needed commodity. In business, politics, education, church & family – everything rises and falls on leadership.

Today I wanted to explore leadership from the follower’s point of view, with three questions that every follower, consciously or unconsciously, asks about the leader.

In a recent interview John Maxwell posed these questions – stating that every follower asks:
-Do You Care For Me?
-Can You Help Me?
-Can I Trust You?

Question #1 – Do You Care For Me?
A follower first looks at do you care for me? Do you have a heart for me? What are your real motives?

As a leader our motives need to be pure and we need to truly care for those we lead. Our heart comes through to those we lead in subtle ways. Are we inward focused (selfish) or outward focused (selfless)? Do we invest in our people by going the extra mile? Are we genuinely interested in our people? Are you looking to give or looking to get?

Question #2 – Can You Help Me?
This question strikes at the Leader’s competence. Are you adding value? Are your people better today because of your leadership? Are you helping them?

As a leader, a level of competence creates credibility. People will follow those who add value because they will be better because of it. We must care about people and we must be trustworthy but if we want to be influential we must also be credible.

Question #3– Can I Trust You?
The third question is all about integrity. Are you whole? Do you keep your word and walk your talk? Are you the same person in your public, private and secret life?

A leaders reputation is created by integrity and destroyed by a lack of it. In my book, The Power of Influence, I introduce 7 Investments in Integrity. They are:
1. Be The Same Person in Your Public, Private & Secret Life
2. Take Responsibility
3. Keep Promises & Fulfill Commitments
4. Build People Up, Don’t Tear People Down
5. Give 100%, 100% of The Time
6. Be Humble
7. Live Your Values
By investing in your integrity you will be the kind of leader that your followers can trust.

Looking at leadership from the follower’s perspective helps us to assess our leadership by seeing what others see. Ask yourself the three questions that followers ask:
Do I Care?
Am I helping and adding value?
Can Others Trust Me?


11 Responses

  1. Reflecting on good leadership brings the following quote from John Quincy Adams to mind, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

  2. Leaders can be first among equals and primary principals are often appointed to the position without any additional training which makes them equal in qualifications but not in terms of responsibility or remuneration, often making the transition very difficult.

  3. The three questions asked for followers struck a chord with me…..
    -Do You Care For Me?
    -Can You Help Me?
    -Can I Trust You?
    It is important that they can answer “Yes” to these questions. This will improve and increase the effort they put into the task you have given them.

  4. I think the three questions when turned around would be to the fore when employing a staff member.
    Do you care for children?
    Can you help this team?
    Can I trust you?

  5. The 7 Investments of Integrity are a simple checklist for the leader to reflect upon. I think the vast majority of primary school principals are very invested not only in their school but in the community their school is part of. The leadership role can be of huge personal value/ weight as it is professional. When you add the responsibility of being the caretaker and educator of the most vulnerable in that community, in the absence of the parent, the importance of integrity is critical. You would hope that the community could say definitively of their local school leaders- they care, they help and they can be trusted.

  6. If I may, one of the biggest things I feel a teacher looks for in a principal is “Do they have my back?” A teacher who feels that a principal is looking out for their best interest, professionally, academically and emotionally will feel more secure in themselves and their environment. This encourages a culture of well-being within a school environment and a happy teacher infects a classroom, leading to happier children and onwards to happier parents. Of course the very basis of all this is having strong interpersonal relationships with team members where ideas can be shared discussed and analysed in an open environment. A teacher who knows a principal is there for them is much more likely to follow ideas and directions from a principal that they might not necessarily agreed with 100%, when that bond is well established.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *