As a leader, who is really following you? Would you follow you?

I’m often surprised when I talk to people about leadership – about what it is and what makes an effective leader – the conversation typically covers what they need to ‘do’ to be a leader. People sometimes ask: “What can I do to turn things around?” “Why aren’t I getting the results I want – what do I need to do differently?” It’s easy to look externally at what can be ‘fixed’ and done, and yet the problem often doesn’t lie there. More often, a better place for leaders to look is within themselves.

By looking within, a different set of questions can be asked. Like “How am I getting better?”, “How am I going to improve?” “How is the relationship that I have with myself?” Great leaders are very good at asking these questions of themselves. Becoming an effective leader relies on being self-effective.

The heart of leadership is self-leadership

Leadership is a privilege, not a right or a title or something that happens once you’ve achieved a certain level of success. At the core of great leadership, is a belief that as a leader “you can count on me”. If we assume this belief is true, then as leader you need to know “How do I count on me?” In other words, if being a great leader is about people knowing they can count on you, then as a starting point, you need to know how you count on you.

Can you count on you?

If you believe you’re a leader and you haven’t got the people following you want, then a good place to start is learning and understanding more about you. To become more self-aware and to know:

How you manage yourself

How you are responsible to yourself

How you keep the promises you make to yourself

How you trust you

How you back yourself

The standards you set for yourself that you meet consistently

The values you have as a leader

The beliefs you have about you as a leader

Your vision as a leader – your belief in what you are creating

Being an effective leader means being self-effective

This is not a sexy ‘set and forget’ process of self-reflection and evaluation, and it’s one that too few leaders actually invest the time in, whether they know about it and choose not to or not. People would rather change what they do rather than change the way they are being, to then change what they do. Often people don’t want to do their own self-diagnostic that represents the most significant opportunity they have to accelerate their results and achieve success. And they then wonder why they are not able to impact, influence and inspire their team and others around them. Great leaders are always certain (they are self-certain) and passionate. It’s a winning combination and why followers desire to follow them.

Being a leader is a committed decision that is a life long journey of personal and professional development. Being a leader is not being the leader when the going is good or easy, when the rules and boundaries are known, or just for this job or project. Being a leader is about ALWAYS being a leader – regardless of what is happening, what needs to be done and who’s involved.


Becoming a successful leader starts with a committed decision to do what it takes to become a leader. If you want the results of hard work, then you need to do the hard work. The best place to start if you’re not getting the results you want is you. Your results are because of your thinking. You must look to yourself before you look externally to understand what is driving your results.

How many people in leadership positions have a solid understanding and awareness of themselves? Do they have the actual following that they think they have? I’m keen to know your thoughts.


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