Earning the Right to Lead

Hello, Leaders and welcome back!  In the last post, You’re a Leader…Now What?!, we discussed what it means to be entrusted to lead a group of people.  This week, we are going to go further into one of the foundational principles that must occur for you to be successful in leading people:  Building Relationships.

Building relationships is foundational because it is key to creating trust in your followers.  In other words, if you expect your people to buy into you as their leader, and to trust your leadership ability, you must first build a relationship of mutual respect.  To become good at leadership, you must earn the right to lead. Followers will follow you because you have earned their trust. This starts by showing your followers how grateful you are for them and how much you care about them as a person.  John C. Maxwell said, “People never care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  When followers sense their leader truly cares about them as a person, they are more likely to follow from the heart and not just out of obligation to a job title.  This sounds simple; nonetheless, it is true. 

Think back to all the leaders that impacted your life.  I bet the key to their leadership effectiveness was their ability to connect with you.  In fact, they probably spent more time talking about those things important to YOU and not about work (e.g. your family, your hobbies, your weekend plans, etc).  Remember those times they asked for you to get something work related accomplished?  You probably did it with more enthusiasm and intensity because of the rapport your leader had with you.  The best leaders understand that relationships are the most effective way to lead people.

What are some ways you can build positive relationships with your people?  Start by keeping things informal and relaxed.  Don’t call them into your office and grill them on their personal life!  This is cold and indifferent.  Leave your office and go to them.  Schedule time on your daily agenda to spend with them completing a daily task.  By getting them to show you how to do something, you are reinforcing their importance to you and the company.  Even if you know a more efficient way to accomplish the task, resist the temptation to correct them if they are not endangering themselves, you, or the equipment.  Remember, your first goal is to get to know them and encourage them to trust you.  There will be time for coaching and correcting in the future.

As you work with them, ask them about their families, their background, their goals, etc.  Here are ten good questions to start with:

  1. What does your spouse (or significant other) do for a living?
  2. How many kids (or grandkids) do you have?
  3. What do you and your family like to do?
  4. What do your siblings do for a living?
  5. Where did you grow up?
  6. If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
  7. What was your favorite summertime activity as a kid and why?
  8. Who do you look up to and consider to be your life hero?
  9. What are your personal goals?
  10. What are you passionate about?

The list of questions is endless, and I’m sure you can come up with more.  The point is to find out as much as possible about your followers so you can better relate to and serve them.  Internalize your personal commonalities and lace them into future conversations.  Ask follow-up questions based on what they have already revealed to you.  In doing so, you show you care about more than their ability to perform the job.  Subsequently, they will respond by doing better quality work for you.  Building relationships with your followers goes far beyond leading them from your title.  It allows you the opportunity to make a real connection and for them to genuinely want to follow you. Getting to know your people is the first step in earning your right to lead them.

Hope this helps, everybody!  If it does, please click the “Like” button and leave a comment.  Also, be sure to sign up for an email alert when we post new leadership bricks and other materials to help you build your leadership fortress.

Lead well!


You’re a Leader…Now What?!

Congratulations on your selection to a new leadership role!  Whether you were promoted from within because of your dedication and hard work, or an outsider who was brought in because of your unique background and training, you landed this position.  Your hard work, dedication and commitment have paid off and now your experience and skills are going to help you in your new role.  It is wonderful to know that others, especially those with higher positions in the company, think you have what it takes to make a positive impact leading a team of people to accomplish your company’s vision and mission.

Now that you are in this new and exciting position, what do you plan to do with it?  In other words, you have been granted a position of power, so how do you plan to handle your new responsibility?  In fact, just what is your responsibility anyway? 

Too often we see, and have probably had to work for, new leaders who come into their positions without a clue as to how to lead people.  These new leaders try to lead their teams from their titles, and not through the influence it takes to inspire action in a positive direction.  Any leader who states, “Because I said so”, or “You have to follow me because I’m the boss” is really letting us know that they don’t have the foggiest idea on how to lead you or your teammates.  Sadly, they are also letting us know that they are more concerned with their position and status rather than your success as a viable team member.

As a new leader, you must first come to the realization that it is no longer about you!  The best and most effective leaders in any business or industry are the ones that put the well-being and success of their team members ahead of themselves.  Leadership is all about influencing others to better themselves, the team, and thus the company.  Think about the best leaders you’ve known:  Did they know the technical aspects of the business?  Probably.  Did they reach their position because of hard work and dedication, like you?  Sure.  But think about what made them such a great leader…wasn’t it the way they treated you and your teammates?  Simply put, they cared about you and your development as a person.  Now it is your turn to use your new platform to do the same for your team!

The first priority for new leaders is to get to know your people.  How well do you know the people who work for you?  More importantly, how well do you know them beyond their contributions to the team?  Do you know about their families?  Do you know about their hobbies?  How in-tune are you to their dreams and aspirations?  Getting to know your people is the best way to connect with them on a real level.  It may not make much sense, but believe me, it carries far more weight in your ability to influence them than your job title ever will.  Start by dedicating just 15 or 20 minutes each day, individually, helping a subordinate accomplish a task.  As you are serving them by helping them, talk with them about their families, hobbies, and their dreams and aspirations.  If you will commit to doing this daily for a few weeks, it will become easier to do and you will start to see immediate positive responses to your leadership.  As a whole, your team will respond to you and follow your leadership because they want to, not just out of obligation.

This blog is dedicated to helping all newly appointed leaders in every industry understand what it means to lead people.  We will dig into the differences between managers and leaders.  We will discover how to lead beyond your job title and why it is vital to your success.  We will also explore how you can use ages old, but still very effective, leadership principles and techniques to properly influence the people you are charged with leading to action. 

With over 25 years of leadership experience in multiple industries, from the military to retail, I will share with you lessons I’ve learned along the way.  As author John C. Maxwell says, “Leadership is simple, but it’s not easy”.  Trust me, this is a very true statement.  I have fallen and skinned my knees on this leadership journey so many times, that I now can see many of the tripping hazards along the way.  My goal is to guide you as you start your path on this long and exciting, ever challenging and highly rewarding leadership road!

We will explore other techniques for getting to know your people in future posts.  In the meantime, please feel free to share your leadership experiences and “lessons learned” in the comments section.  This blog space is dedicated to helping new leaders better understand leadership.  I look forward to corresponding with you and watching you develop into strong leaders!

Welcome to Leadership Bricks!

Hello, everyone! My name is Bryan and I am so excited to be able to connect with each of you reading this blog!

I am a retired military member and currently hold a senior leadership position in the retail sector. I have an MBA in Human Resource Management and love to help people reach their potential. Leadership training and development is an area that I have helped hundreds of people and plan to use my experiences to help you, too.

Leadership Bricks is dedicated to providing advice on leadership for anyone who wants to become a better supervisor, manager, CEO, co-worker, friend, parent, spouse, or any other “leadership” title.

So why the name “Leadership Bricks”? Think of each blog post as a brick. Together, we are going to build your leadership fortress, one brick at a time. Great leaders provide stability and a sense of protection for those they lead. This is accomplished through trust from followers. The “bricks” you will learn will help you build that fortress of trust with your followers!

My ultimate hope is that you find the posts insightful, inspiring, and that they influence you to become the best leader you can. I look forward to reading your comments and helping you build your leadership fortress, one brick at a time!

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