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Eat an elephant with a small fork!

Over the years of training young people in leadership I Have heard a common complaint repeatedly. It goes like this, “Well you didn’t give me enough authority to be able to get the job done.” Now it is true that you need your boss to let the workers under you know that he expects them to follow your guidance. But that is not what cause the followers to follow.

The first quality a leader needs is a responsible attitude, understanding that it would be nice if the workers did their job but it is my responsibility to see to it that it’s done. This may mean that I jump in and work beside a slower or confused worker. It also may mean that I end up sweeping up and taking out trash at the end of the day in spite of my degree level.

Along with responsibility is the necessity of humility. This characteristic helps you to come along side of your workers instead of stepping back and throwing orders around. People will automatically follow someone who values them. Seeking your workers’ insight on their job can also help you to streamline a difficult assignment. As the leader you don’t have to do what they suggest but it is wise to let them know you are taking their idea into serious consideration.

When a person has the quiet confident attitude that their workers will naturally want to follow them people often will respond to that self-belief by automatically following. My father was a great example of this. He could step into a situation where the assigned leaders had lost control and he would calmly ask this person if they could do that and that person if they could help over there. In short order chaos became calm efficiency and nobody knew why. They just responded to his confidence even though he didn’t have the position of leadership. This kind of person gets promoted quickly. People often accuse them of being the boss’s favorite but that’s usually not the case. It is the natural leadership that comes from confident self-belief that even the boss finds easy to follow.

This quality of my dad's leadership was even more effective as he also had the quality of orderliness. Knowing how to break a big job into small steps but also which step comes first and which ones come next in order. My husband, Lew, says "Eat an elephant with a small fork."

So, if people aren't following you well, don't look to your boss to give you more power. Look to your own character, develop the needed ones and people will follow you automatically.

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