Do you know what leaders tell followers?

I believe that you know the answers to both questions above, but may not be thinking about it.  

A leader is someone with followers.

Truett Cathy was my final career leader.  I was his follower.

This is what he told me when I went to work for him.  He used clear and simple language.

        “I want you to help me open restaurants… and see that they stay open.”

He told me what he wanted.

He did not tell me how to do it.

Leaders tell followers… what they want.

Leaders don’t tell followers… how to do it.

Truett told me what he wanted and left it up to me to do it.  It was my responsibility to figure out how and do it.

Like all leaders, Truett knew that if it was my plan he did not need to worry about its execution because I would make any necessary adjustments, changes or additions needed to make my plan successful.  Leaders know that the more detail they give followers on how to do it, the weaker they make the execution and the more responsibility they take back to share in possible failures.

I took responsibility knowing that if the job was going to done and done right, it was up to me to do it.  He gave me the freedom and support needed to get the restaurants open and see they stayed open.   His confidence inspired me and in response I gave him my absolute loyalty.  

That is what makes the role of followers interesting, satisfying and rewarding.

Followers are not servants on their knees kissing the boss’s hand, begging for instructions and crumbs of recognition.  Followers are the people who get things done by joining with the leader to execute their common and unifying purpose.

In a relationship where the boss tells the worker every detail of how to accomplish the task, there is neither a leader nor a follower.  That is a boss and worker relationship.

Bosses tell workers both what to do and how to do it.  The boss may not have confidence in the worker.  There may be good reasons.  Workers typically shun responsibility. There may be good reasons.  If the boss is not a leader, he or she will not attract followers.

It is the followers who take on the responsibility to get things done.  They are the executives.

Leaders know the difference.   Even though they may not call them followers or workers, leaders know by their behavior who is a follower and who is a worker.

Leaders tell followers

       … what they want.

Leaders don’t tell followers

        how to do it!

Jimmy Collins

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