Peter Drucker is widely considered one of the influential thinkers on management. He once said: “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”
On one hand I totally agree with this statement and on the other, it is obviously somewhat simplistic. What I believe Pete is really saying is that there are ALL different types of “leaders”, some good and some not so good, but because they have people who follow them, they are considered leaders.
People tend to follow people because for a couple of key reasons. They stand for something; they also have a persona or a style that attracts you and they deliver results. I call this the 3 P’s of leadership – Passion/Purpose, Persona and Performance.
Do you have a passion or purpose? Or maybe another way to ask this is: do you stand for something that inspires others? Finding this is one key to becoming a great leader. In these times, brand (and people) need to offer something to others that is greater than the product or the job title that you have if you want people to follow you.
Think about it in the context of the brands you love. Why do you love them? Is it because they are a great product? Or is it that they are a great product AND they stand for something that you agree with or support? Roy Spence, of GSDM fame, wrote a book in 2009 called “It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For: Why Every Extraordinary Business is Driven By Purpose.” He also wrote: “Especially during times of great economic uncertainty, purpose is the key to creating and maintaining a high-performing organization. It deserves just as much attention as strategy, execution, and innovation.” Does this sound even more relevant today than ever?
Here are a couple of personal examples. I remember falling in love with Southwest airlines years ago, not just because they offered cheap flights but because they made flying fun and accessible for so many. Flying on Southwest was more than getting from point A to point B. The experience felt different than flying on any other airline. I fell in love with Nike not just because I liked their clothes and shoes, but because, at the time, they were empowering normal people, like me, to become active. “Just do it” was a mantra I could relate to in terms of motivating myself to go to the gym, go on a walk or just be active.
Now turn back to thinking about people you consider great leaders. What do/did they stand for? Did they inspire you? How did they do this? I have had some really great bosses who I considered leaders. They were more than their job title. They made me feel like I was aiming for something bigger than just the next promotion. They helped me be my best. They taught me, inspired me and made me excited about what we were all trying to achieve together.
Who were/are the people that you’ve followed or have been inspired by?
My guess is that you probably have more than one person in your life that you’ve considered a strong leader. AND my guess is these individuals had no more in common with each other than the fact that had a passion, a persona and they performed…and people followed them as a result.
Can you relate?