One of the best books I've read on leadership in the past several years is "Leadership In The New Normal" written by Lt. General Russel L. Honere. In fact, I've took this week to reread it. Here are some great thoughts from General Honere on leaders and followers with my thoughts in bold red italics:
Earlier on, I stated my working definition of leadership: the art and science of influencing others to willingly follow. To accomplish this, to get willing followers, leaders need to do two things: they must walk the walk and they must inspire loyalty.
"Walk the walk" -- as Coach Don Meyer would say, your example isn't the main thing in influencing people, it's the only thing.
Leaders have to be genuinely respectable. The need to live up to the best attributes of the organizations they lead. Good leaders are good citizens. Followers want somebody who's responsible, not just somebody who's loud.
Good followers, however, obey willingly because the mission is as important to them as it is to the leader.
Without question, one of the main things a leader must do if forge a set of principles and goals that excite and inspire those that he/she leads. I also believe that big part of that is allowing the followers to be a part of that process in deciding why they are doing what they are doing.
The Gallup Organization has done a lot of research into inspired followers -- what they call "engaged workers" - and found that these workers are must more productive and profitable, get hurt less, are more loyal, and somehow create willing customers. Engaged workers achieve all that only if they have good leadership.
And good leadership has something to do with presence. A leader's presence isn't just a matter of power, or decision making authority, or control over resources. A real leader isn't even elected; some elected officials think they're leaders when, in fact, they're just figureheads.
Leaders who fail get caught up in the wrong things...the power...the budget...material things. Leaders that succeed know that the it begins and ends with people and relationships.
Leaders must say what they mean and mean what they say. Follows don't score you on where you come from or necessarily what you look like. They score you on your character. As soldiers like to say, your audio and your video have to match.
It's about character -- enough said!