How to be an irresistible leader

There’s been a whole lot written about the charisma that successful leaders possess, because it seems we humans are drawn to a certain je ne sais quoi in those we choose to follow.

But far too often it seems, we quickly become disappointed with these leaders. Truth be told, psychic energy alone does not a good leader make. Psychic energy is attractive and a little exciting, but it’s not substantive. To be that truly irresistible leader who can claim both style and substance, a little more is required than charisma. This reputation must be earned through consistent, quality performance and (most important) solid, healthy relationships. No bullies or tyrants allowed.

What else?

  • Know what you’re talking about
    A good leader needn’t have the same level of technical competence as everyone who reports to him, but whatever he’s supposed to know, he should know. An incompetent leader will quickly lose the respect of his staff (and cause a bunch of problems that others have to clean up, too).
  • Be good to people
    Don’t condescend, micromanage, bully, harass, belittle, take advantage of, or otherwise abuse staff, and don’t allow any manager who reports to you to do that, either. Everyone knows that fish stinks from the head. If you sanction it, you did it.
  • Be a teacher and a learner
    Great leaders have lots of knowledge to share, and your staff deserves to reap the benefit of yours, so be both generous and gracious in this regard. At the same time, no one knows everything about everything. Be open to receiving as well as giving information.
  • Recognize others’ talents
    We’re all gifted in different areas. Irresistible leaders know this and don’t trample on other people’s talent but instead appreciate and use those talents for the good of the business in a way that’s respectful of the gift’s steward. Put another way, great leaders aren’t “talent wasters,” preferring to keep all the interesting work for themselves, or even worse, allowing work that needs doing going undone, rather than assigning people as good sense would dictate.
  • Be humble
    Irresistible leaders are a lot more interested in other folks than themselves, and they’re quick to acknowledge the role of luck, fate, and the kindness of others in their own success.
  • Be human
    Perhaps more than anything else, irresistible leaders are human and unafraid to show vulnerabilities or faults. Such leaders have the maturity and good character to understand there’s nothing to be gained by insisting on always being “right,” especially when you’re dead wrong. Instead, they recognize it’s better to admit an error, and when appropriate, offer an apology. These actions are very irresistible, indeed.

A leader with no followers isn’t much of a leader. And, contrary to what some might think (or really, really want to believe), followers must follow voluntarily. So, regardless of job title, any leader hoping to inspire trust and loyalty in others needs to exhibit qualities that attract, rather than repel.

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