The capacity to gain willing followers at any moment in time often depends on Leadership Influence Skills. Followers will attach to those who have an established base of credibility and power.
In 2000, Jeffrey Immlet landed the CEO position at General Electric because of his success as head of GE Medical Systems. In contrast, Jill Barad, the feisty former CEO of Mattel Inc., lost the support of many by making ambitious promises for growth and then failing to deliver. Followers commit to those already close to them and with whom they have an established alliance.
Recall the Leadership Influence Skill comment by Rudy, one of the summer 2000 participants in the television show Survivor, during the final vote. He supported Richard “because we had an alliance, and I am going to honor it.”
Followers also offer their support to those who have supported them. Groups of voters, such as a union, commit in blocks to candidates who have demonstrated concern for their particular needs. Exceptional leadership influencers build their commitment base with every action they take.
Followers observe the leader’s model and use it to gauge their return commitment of support. The head of a large hospital spent several hours each week walking through the hallways, talking to staff, and meeting patients.
He learned each of the 1,400 staff members’ names and would give them a personal hello when he saw them. He would take the time to sit with nurses and support service personnel to encourage them to work together more effectively.
The hospital president did not have to ask twice when he called on hospital personnel to dedicate themselves to improve customer relations or improve processes that affected patient care. Those who skillfully establish a firm base of commitment are perceived as natural born leaders.
- Create the conditions necessary to gain commitment.
- Enhance your credibility as a leader.
- Position yourself to have more influence.
- Maximize your flexibility and responsiveness to followers.