Guest Post by Luke Roland
When I first got into different leadership roles I was so excited. I felt like I had finally made it. I had dreams of commanding and leading thousands of people. I wanted to be large and in charge. I wanted to be the star of my movie. I wanted respect. I craved authority.
As a Millennial leader I wanted to be taken seriously and to make an impact, but my goals were not always pure. I desired to make a positive impact on the lives of others, but deep down I also knew that I selfishly wanted to make an impact that would promote me and my agenda. Looking back I realized I let some people down because I was focused on myself that I did not serve and lift others.
A lesson I soon learned was authority alone will not make people follow me. My title did not make people want to follow me nor did my gifting. I felt since I was their leader, their authority figure, that they should listen and follow like followers should. My approach did not work.
Because of my position I began to take myself too seriously. I was not one with the people. I was more concerned with building an organization than building people. At times I was more consumed by the cause than I was the welfare of the people I was leading. I failed to add value to them. In truth I expected them to add value to me!
I now believe that leadership is serving others. What bothers me about leaders today is leaders expect people to serve them, but leaders should carry an attitude and a spirit of service to the people they are leading. You should know the pulse of the people you are serving. You should know if they are hurting. If they have a problem fix it. A great man once said the greatest among you will be a servant.
If I could go back I would love people more, listen to them more, take care of them more, invest into them more. Make it less about me and my vision and more about them.
The old saying is true, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
A few lessons I have learned through my mistakes that I hope will help you:
1. People follow the person first, not the vision.
- I didn’t understand that they needed to buy into me before they bought into my vision. I was shocked when people didn’t follow me because I had an inspiring vision. People follow people, and to get them to follow me I should have served and invested into them.
2. People follow leaders when the leader is interested in their story.
- I wish I would have taken time to figure out what was important to them, what were their goals and dreams, what were their traditions, what were their passions.
- I should have found out their story instead of telling mine, I should have spent time with them in other contexts, I should had given to them without expecting something in return, I should have celebrated them instead of seeking their praise.
- Ask yourself do you really know your following?
3. People follow leaders when the leader is concerned with them.
- Steven Covey has said “leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.” Leaders should be more excited when their followers live out their dreams not the dream of the leader. Do you know your followers dreams, or just your own?
- Andrew Carnegie has said “No man becomes rich unless he enriches others.”
- As a leader am I more concerned with my desires or those of the people I am leading? Remember you are here to serve.
4. People follow leaders when the leader gives them their time.
- Leaders spend a lot of time with people. I’ve been in countless meetings with all kinds of people, but there were times in my role as a leader that if I didn’t see how you fit into my overall vision then you may not have gotten my time.
- As a leader when you give people your time you are recognizing them and affirming them. Who have you spent time with this week?
I hope this post helps you as you lead others. You can’t be a leader without people, so take good care of them or you won’t be leading for long!
Image: Courtesy of StockMonkeys, some rights reserved.
About the Author
Luke categorizes himself as a big dreamer! He lives in NYC with his wife and two kids. He blogs at lukeroland.com where he seeks to inspire people to leave the familiar and pursue the dreams that are in their hearts. You can follow him @lukeroland.