“Are you a leader people want to follow, or one they want to avoid?”

At a conference, a senior executive was asked to share about her leadership experience with the organization. At first, she said all the right things which is exactly what the people didn’t want to hear. Then she shocked the room by expressing dissatisfaction with her lack of providing real leadership.

She went on to say that even though she knew people were unhappy with the organization’s progress and her leadership style and approach, she regretted not doing anything about it. She concluded by talking about “courageous leadership” and why the workplace demands it now more than ever.

To lead effectively in the 21st Century you must understand those you lead are looking for at least three things from your leadership:

First, competence; the personal and professional skills that qualifies you to give leadership. They include: positive character, effective communicator, relationship and team builder, and possessing influence and inspiration abilities.

Second, the ability to create the future; whether its this afternoon, tomorrow, or five years out. Team members want to know you know where you are going. No one wants to follow an uncharted course or serving a hesitant leader.

Third, trustworthiness; the crown jewel of personal ethics. Regardless of talent, ability or education, if your word is unreliable you forfeit the right to lead. Never promise what you can’t deliver, even if it means loosing your position.

When team members see these qualities in you; they work harder, contribute more and better ideas with greater energy, and stay with you longer.

When they don’t see these positive signs, their energy and engagement level drop, their performance and spirit of excellence deteriorates and their loyalty diminishes.

You are either a leader everyone wants to work with, or one everyone wants to avoid. Ask yourself often, “Why would people want to follow me?”

Make a list of your leadership strengths and weaknesses, mature leaders do this all the time, then maximize your strengths and build a team to manage your weaknesses.

Moral: don’t spend too much time pulling the “weeds” in your leadership garden, just keep planting more flowers and eventually they overtake the weeds.