People’s mistrust of leadership is running rampant these days. Particularly for people who never were willing to follow direction from an early age. Mainly because they were usually teased, ridiculed or humiliated by others in authority. They’ve come to doubt and question when they are being asked to follow.

In defense of the unwilling follower, there are times when following isn’t in their best interest. The top reason people don’t follow is they have found nothing worth following. The unwilling follower should be applauded when they refrain from falling hook line and sinker for something that will cause harm to him or her, their family or their community. They trust their instincts and intuition. How can you blame them?

There are other reasons people may not follow you:

  • Frustrated with how they are being treated
  • Feeling rejected, unsupported or misunderstood
  • Feeling scared, angry, powerless
  • Maybe experiencing personal problems
  • Might be impatient

The reluctant follower lives with conflict around unfulfilled needs; to be recognized, to establish control, needing affection and wanting respect. When a person is in this frame of mind they don’t readily respond to being lead.

With this picture in mind, knowing what the reluctant follower is thinking and feeling, what can you do to effectively lead people who question leadership?

First, make your leadership stand for something. Are you just going through the motions? Or is leading your passion – leading from a source of strength and compassion? Do your represent something that people believe in strong enough to follow?

Second, take a stand. Don’t be wishy-washy. Own the direction of where you are heading. People won’t follow vagueness or uncertainty about what needs to be done. This goes for stating your values and beliefs clearly and loudly, too.

Third, don’t tell people what you have to offer – show them. Let people see your confidence, foresight, passion, willingness to listen, courage, empathy, integrity and never-give-up-attitude.

Fourth, close the gaps in your leadership. If you are inconsistent or not sure of what’s in people’s best interest or the company’s best interest, find out. If you are not communicating with your followers, schedule time and stick to it. And if you are not listening, apologize then start.

Fifth, walk the talk. If you want people to follow you, build a history of accomplishments where people realize they can trust you. Witnessing your ability to make tough decisions and stay the course will enhance their trust and respect.

Lastly, be trustworthy and sincere. Remember, the largest groups of people who resist being lead are those who have experienced the dishonesty and deceitfulness of previous leaders. They are the ones who are searching for great leaders. Be one they will find worth following.

From regional manager to international executive with quadruple the pay, Karen Keller’s unique blueprint carefully outlined the step-by-step process for creating high-impact influence and let me know when I was being influenced in a way that didn’t serve me.
Lloyd Moore
Global Director Supplier Quality & Development - Lear Corporation – South Carolina