There are times throughout a leader's tenure that he/she must look behind them and see if anyone is following. Are the goals that have been set being accomplished? Is the organization moving in a positive direction? Are people working together to achieve the desired outcomes?
Losing your influence over the people that you lead often does not happen quickly...but, rather, happens over a period of time. People are forgiving at the beginning, but the longer you lead, the less they are willing to forgive your shortcomings. Those that you lead need to be led...want to be led.
We've probably all known "leaders" who were leaders in name only. The people who have been put in charge of a team, but they have no influence over those that they are leading. Or, maybe we've been involved in a group, a ministry, a task where we've been put in charge - but for some reason no one is following us.
There are lots of reason why people may not be following your leadership, but here are a few common reasons that I've discovered:
1. You're disorganized.
Organization leads to clarity. Clarity of mission, clarity of tasks to be completed, clarity of who does what, etc. When a leader is disorganized, he/she immediately loses credibility with the team. Being disorganized leads to confusion, missed deadlines, and a lack of care for the needs of the team. This is you if you find yourself late to appointments/meetings, misplacing documents, your unprepared for meetings, you forget who's supposed to do what, etc.
2. You're inconsistent.
Consistency helps people understand what is expected. When a leader is inconsistent, the team can be unsure of what is happening or what to do next. This is you if you change meeting times often and with very short notice, change your mind about how to accomplish the goals of the group, and/or you're moody and varied in your reaction to things, for example. Consistency gives people on the team a feeling of safety and security - which is vital to team success.
3. You don't follow up.
Answering emails, texts, and phone calls in a timely way. Following up on assignments that were assigned to you. When you don't follow up, people don't feel important and can interpret this behavior as a sign that they're not needed on the team. This is you if you don't have a system in place to follow up on communications/requests that you receive, you don't take minutes/notes at meetings that you lead, and/or you find yourself regularly saying that assigned items are not completed by the deadline.
4. You're a discourager, rather than an encourager.
As the leader, one of the primary responsibilities you have is to encourage those that you lead. This is a non-negotiable and extends to everyone under your leadership, regardless of position. It's enough for someone to stop following you if you simply do not encourage them, but when you also discourage those that you lead, it can be a deadly outcome. When you discourage those that you lead regularly, you are taking away the one thing that is most personal to them - the pride in their work. This is you if your first reaction to others' work is criticism, or you find it easier to tell others what they did wrong than what they did right, and/or you struggle to share the praise your team receives with the other people on the team.
5. You care more about your success than their's.
If you're on the team and leading the team because you want the accolades and to take the credit for the success, people will not follow you. One of the goals of leadership is to make those around you better. And, if they happen to surpass you in title, responsibility, and praise - so be it. That only looks good on you. But, if you are threatened by others who have better talent and ideas than you, you may want to reconsider your role as a leader. This is you if you regularly need to be praised for the progress of the team you lead, or you find yourself jealous when someone else's work is recognized or rewarded instead of your own, and/or you accept the praise when the team wins and quickly point fingers at everyone else when the team fails.
This article originally appeared on timparsons.me.