We sometimes talk about people in terms of their followings. So-and-so has 28,000 followers… and this person over here has 5700, but poor little such-n-such… she only has 320 followers. Somehow, we have begun to equate the number of followers we have with success.

That’s because we don’t think it through. The number of followers you have doesn’t matter much if they are not engaged with you. The figures I shared are rough numbers from three different companies I’ve worked with, so I am familiar with their stats.

Would it surprise you to know that the person who is barely staying in business is the one with all the followers? The other two are equally successful financially, but one is ten-plus years into her business plan…and the poor little thing who only has 320 followers? She is about a year and a half into her business plan.

What’s the difference? They all apply social media marketing strategies. No one of them has a huge advantage over the others. Well, except for one area. The successful ones have engaged audiences.

Why do they have such high engagement rates? Is it because of some new app, or social media strategy? If you google “how to increase social media following”, you’d sure think that’s all there is to it. But, nope. That’s not it.

It is because they are leaders. We humans have this natural tendency to want to follow the leader. Following a worthy leader gives us a sense of community, a common cause, and a hero.

In social media marketing, the community is your page. The common cause is the problem you solve as a business. YOU are the hero. Wow. That’s heavy. 

You’re a LEADER!

You are in a position of leadership.You can’t escape this role of hero, so it would be wise to evaluate your leadership skills. Strong leaders have active followings with little effort. Weak leaders see nobody wanting to follow and wonder why. We are going to look, first at what qualities make a leader, and then how to develop them. You can be the hero your people need, even if it doesn’t come naturally.

Here are seven traits most successful leaders have in common:

  • Love. They mean it.
  • Example. They live it.
  • Authenticity. They are who they seem to be.
  • Decisive. They confidently make decisions.
  • Enthusiastic. Their passion is contagious.
  • Relationship-builders. They don’t talk TO people, they interact WITH them.
  • Steadfast and Strong. Leadership is tough. They are tougher.

Let’s look at each trait individually.

LOVE

To be a leader people want to follow, you need to leave little love prints everywhere you go. You need to respond in love, be motivated by love, with a goal of serving those you lead because you care about them.

But what if you don’t feel love for them?

There are a couple things to do. First, search your heart. Make sure you are in the niche you should be in if you don’t have a heart for your followers. Faking it will get old, is a lot of work, and truth always shines through eventually.

Next, make more of an effort to get to know them. People want to feel heard, and it helps you get a feel for their problems so you can better meet their needs. Given the chance, most people love to give their opinion. You can do that through surveys, creating posts asking for a response, and even by simply asking them, one-on-one. Sometimes, in this age of technology, we have forgotten how important a personal touch is.

Take a little time to mingle with your tribe, on-on-one.

Now, I know, I know… when you have thousands, or even tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, you can’t possibly keep close tabs on them all. But, you can set aside just a small amount of time each day to do just that… connect with people personally.

I call my time set aside for this my “fly-by’s”. Twice a day, I take 15 minutes to connect with people. Sometimes I have somebody on my mind. Then, I just fly by and say hi in a quick message, ask how they are….and keep it short. Other times, I post on their timeline or send them a meme that made me think of them. I might share a word of encouragement. It’s simply a matter of letting people know you care.

As an aside, yes, I do that at times with people I do not know. Strangers are friends waiting to happen so I just love them like I do all the ones I have already met.

However the purpose of this exercise is not just to share the love….it is to gather information. Listen to what people say, listen even closer to what they feel. Ask yourself what their real needs are. Ask how you can help meet those needs. In the process of getting to know your followers and digging deep to the heart of their needs, you will develop love for them. It might come easier to some than others, but it will affect your heart. It will soften to them, to their needs… and they will feel that and respond.

EXAMPLE

Leaders walk the solutions that the followers need. You are the walking-talking proof that what you offer works and what they want can be done. Let me give you a few examples…

A friend of mine markets a nutritional approach to treating autism. She has seen remarkable results by applying what she teaches to her son. She proves it can be done.

Another friend markets to a target niche of mature bodybuilders. He is walking proof you can be in tip-top shape at any age… and placed in a bodybuilding competition last year.

I’m working on a domestic violence recovery guide… as I walk out my own recovery daily.

Ask yourself, honestly, if you are that example of success to your followers. If you coach or teach, be walking out the principles you talk about. If you sell a product, be consistent in using it so you are proof of its effectiveness. If you are teaching others how to do something, you need to be the example of how it is done.

This leads us to the next leadership trait we are going to focus on…

AUTHENTICITY

The obvious reason to be authentic as a leader is simply that truth will eventually come out. If you are living lies, the illusion will not last forever. You are better off putting energy into being, in reality, what you are portraying.

If you are a motivational speaker who must fake a happy face because your inner world is a mess, you need to fix that. If you sell a brand of cosmetics, but use another, just stop it, or get out of the business. If you teach others how to eat only healthy, natural foods, but can be caught with empty M&M bags in your back seat, shame on you. You might be able to pull off temporary success by faking it, but it will not be lasting. 

A less obvious reason for being authentic is that is where your personal power can be found. You will never be a true leader if you are just an imitation of somebody else. Learn from other leaders, apply what you learn, but specialize in being you. Then be you, all you, all the time and watch your tribe grow.

DECISIVE

Effective leaders make decisions with confidence. They consider the situation, make an intelligent choice, and then resolutely act on it.

That acting on it is key. A decision isn’t really a decision until it is acted upon and walked out. Saying you are getting married, and saying “I do” are two different things. It is the same with saying you will write a book. It is just a thought until you decide to write it. Remember that. Decisions are made to be walked out.

Procrastination is often a sign of a lack of confidence in this area. If you find yourself chronically procrastinating on decisions, or on walking them out, ask yourself what you are afraid of. If it is simply a fear of making a mistake, you should get over it. Most successes came after many mistakes. It’s called learning from your experiences and leaders are masters at it.

You also want to make decisions efficiently. A leader leads. Leading indicates forward movement. If you are stuck someplace agonizing over a decision, you aren’t moving. So, how can anyone follow?

Don’t be impulsive, make educated choices, but don’t take forever to make them.

ENTHUSIASTIC

Have you ever seen a leader step onto a stage to speak, kinda dragging, mopey, and un-enthused? Of course not! Who would want to follow in those footsteps?

Remember, as leaders, we are supposed to be walking out the solutions our followers need. If those solutions don’t offer enough to excite you, nobody else is going to buy into whatever it is you are selling.

As with the other leadership traits, if you honestly find yourself lacking in excitement over what you do, perhaps it is time to evaluate your path. Ideally, for lasting success that at times is effortless, you should be doing that which lights your soul on fire and makes you glow to speak of. If it doesn’t, maybe you should find ways to monetize that which does.

So, leaders are enthused about their business. They are also excited about life and let it show. They smile. They have bounce. They are happy people. People enjoy being around them because they give off such a good vibe. That vibe attracts. You are experiencing what they want. They will follow you to get a taste of what you are having.

A word here about enthusiasm and authenticity. Here, I have told you to be authentic, but am also telling you to be excited….in a world where yucky stuff happens to us all. They key is balance. You have to find a balance between being real, and being determined to fake it until you make it.

It’s okay to be honest about your struggles. Share your struggles. Show that you too have challenges. Then show others, by example, how you walk solutions out to push forward. Don’t run followers off by being that they want to avoid. Instead, show them the way out of it.

RELATIONSHIP-BUILDER

Everything we have talked about regarding leadership deals with building quality relationships. You are not a leader without a following, so by its nature, having a following is a relationship, like any other personal relationship, only it is en-masse. 

In successful relationships, there is give and take, from both sides. You do not keep score, but give from the heart. You receive gratefully, when it comes, but don’t get your panties in a wad if it doesn’t.  You don’t do nice things for one another just to get something in return. You don’t expect something back each time you give. It’s an easy passing back and forth of the love that binds you.

You’ve developed trust in the relationship, so you don’t get suspicious when he comes home with flowers, or she baked your favorite dessert for no reason. You give, and take, in a spirit of love, and have developed trust.

Trust is the foundation of good relationships. Trust is also what gets sales. It is what gets referrals. It is what puts food on your table and helps you reach your financial goals. Yes, ideally, we are all here to serve, but we are also here to make money doing it. 

If you want to see your engagement go up, see your sales increase, and take it to the next level, focus on building relationships.

In a loving relationship, you give your followers value, whether it is through information, products, a service… and they give you trust and their hard-earned money.

Real love gives anyway, while finding the sweet spot that motivates a purchase. Then when you have found the need and met it, the sale comes. That’s love in action and is what will bring engagement and financial increase.

STEADFAST AND STRONG

No discussion of leadership qualities would be complete without mentioning the need for strength and determination. Assuming a leadership role is not without its costs. It will stress you, test you, and try to break you.

If you allow it, it can also grow you into even more than you are now; but little about it is easy. Life isn’t easy, and as a leader, you are being watched as you navigate through it. Followers will take notice of how you handle the tough stuff of life.

Leaders have a steadfast determination to persevere. Even more than that, they have a commitment to standing strong with integrity. We recently did another blog post on the subject of integrity. You can find it here -> CLICK HERE.

Leadership will test your strength. It will push your limits mentally, even physically. Leaders must be tough in several areas. One area people don’t much like to talk about is how hard it can be on the heart.

It can be emotionally painful to be in leadership.

People will attack you for seemingly no reason. Haters happen. People can be cruel and they will say mean and ugly things about you when you don’t deserve it. It won’t be fair and it will hurt your feelings. But, you cannot let it derail you.

Wrapping it all up.

When I was raising my children, I taught them that when somebody is critical, if it speaks to an area that needed it, let it soak in. When it speaks to something that is a figment of somebody’s imagination or cruel heart, let it roll off of you like water off the back of a duck. To this day, we all use that phrase, “be a duck” to tell one another to blow it off, suck it up, and move on.

So, leaders do need a certain level of emotional toughness. But excellent leaders are tough on the outside and ooey gooey and full of love on the inside. Don’t let the pain others try to put on you keep you so tough you can’t let the love out.

Which brings us right back to the very first leadership trait I mentioned….LOVE. Live it, share it, be it to those who need it. When it is real, they will notice, then they will follow. Even without a fancy smancy app or new marketing technique! Imagine that!

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