Leadership should be a reciprocal process that occurs between two people – a leader and a follower. It should not be done by one person to another. Successful leadership depends more upon the follower’s perception of the leader’s abilities than on the leader’s perception of him or herself. Truly successful leadership is achieved when the followers believe that their leader is capable of meeting their needs. Are you meeting your officers’ needs? If not, what could you do to change? According to followers, the top three characteristics they like to see in a leader are honesty, competence and leading by action.
For people to be willing to follow a leader, they must be assured that their leader can be trusted. Leaders are considered honest by their followers by following through on what they say they are going to do. When a supervisor fails to followup on a promise, or is inconsistent in his or her actions, it indicates a lack of honesty to the follower. Do you feel your officers trust you?
Followers must have confidence that their leaders know what they are doing. Our officers like to know their supervisors have the technical skills to perform the job the officers are required to perform. Can you “out perform” your officers?
Leading by action
Leaders must be positive role models. Officers look at their supervisors in terms of how they react in a given situation. It is hard to command respect or correct an officer for improper actions when last week you, the supervisor, may have been acting in the same manner. How can you be critical of an officer’s off duty behaviour when yours is not beyond reproach? How can you criticize an officer for frequent “call offs” when you frequently call off? Do you lead by negative or positive actions? There are many more characteristics required of the superior leader; intelligence, fairness, consistency, conscientiousness, sincerity and, dependability are but a few. Each supervisor can learn a great deal about his or her leadership abilities just by listening and observing how their followers respond to them. Once an officer follower has lost respect for his or her supervisor it is difficult for the supervisor to earn it back. And lastly, try to climb out of yourself. Try to see your leadership product – your display of leadership by example through the eyes of your followers. After all, it is their perception of your success or failure that defines your success and the results of your leadership efforts.