4 Characteristics of Leaders That Cause People to Stop Following

By December 15, 2019 No Comments

***This article is inspired by chapter 16 of John C. Maxwell’s book Leadership Gold –
“People Quit People, Not Companies”***

Turnover is inevitable in any organization, but WHY people leave matters.

There are times when people leave for better opportunities that your organization cannot offer them.

There are times when people simply need a change of scenery because they’ve become stale.

There are various healthy reasons for people to move on.

Then there are reasons that are related to the leaders, which could be prevented.

Some sources estimate that as many as 65% of people leaving companies do so because of their managers. Ouch!

So, what are the characteristics of leaders that cause people to stop following them? Consider the following four:

1 – People quit people who devalue them

No matter what type of job people have, they want to feel valued. In general, people connect their self-worth in what they do for a living. People want to take pride in their work. They want to do a good job. They want to hear that they are being successful.

Leaders who devalue their followers quickly lose them. When a leader treats a follower as an object instead of a human being who has emotions, they break the connection. When a connection is lost, it is easy for the follower to look for “greener pastures.”

Show your people that you value them by the words you speak to them and about them. Address problems privately, but praise them publicly. Be their cheerleader. Help them succeed. This shows them that they matter and that you value them.

2 – People quit people who are untrustworthy

Trust is the foundation of leadership. When people trust their leader, they will follow them a great distance. When trust is broken, followers quickly look for someone else to follow. Trust is a component of integrity that leaders cannot afford to lose.

Trust takes time to build but can be lost in a moment. Leaders must guard their trustworthiness with their lives. We all have bad days. We say and do things we regret. While this breaks trust sometimes, apologizing and owning your error can often correct the problem. However, apologies must be sincere.

Make it your goal to be the kind of leader that your people can depend on. Make “trustworthy” one of your highest core values. It will take you far in your leadership.

3 – People quit people who are incompetent

People will initially follow “nice” people, but if you prove that you are not competent and don’t belong in a leadership role, you will lose followers eventually. When followers feel they have to work around their leaders, they will often look for a better person to follow elsewhere.

While leaders must recruit talented specialists around them, they must also prove to be competent in their leadership roles. You do not have to be an expert in what your team members are, but you must show them that you can lead well. Leaders shouldn’t be the smartest people in the room; rather, they should gather the smartest people together. This is a leadership skill.

Just as you expect your specialists to be great at their jobs, you must become great as a leader. Invest in yourself. Read personal growth books, go to conferences, listen to podcasts, hire a coach. Invest in yourself so you have plenty to give your followers. When they see you grow as a leader, it will inspire them to grow in their roles.

4 – People quit people who are insecure

Insecurity masks itself in a variety of ways. One way that has taken me by surprise the most is when a leader appears to be overly confident. When someone is trying to be impressive, watch out. Leadership is difficult. There’s no doubt about it. However, beware of your insecurities and how you try to cover them up.

Everyone is insecure in some way, but be honest about it. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Don’t overcompensate by puffing up your chest and being over-the-top in your approach. Be real and authentic. Followers realize no leader is perfect. Own your shortcomings and delegate for the sake of the team.

Instead of trying to mask your insecurities, build a team around you that can complement your skills. You cannot pretend for very long before being found out. Be on guard against your insecurities or else they will become a factor that pushes people away.

People desire to follow strong leaders, not perfect ones. If you will guard against these four negative characteristics of leadership, you can go far. If you fall into any one of these traps, prepare to lose followers and your leadership credibility.

You can be the type of leader that others want to go the distance with, but it will take intentional effort, humility, and authenticity.

You can do this.

I believe in you.

Until next time…make today GREAT!

***If you need help developing a personal growth plan or implementing a leadership development program for your team, please contact me. I’d love to talk with you to determine how I can help!

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