Why Do People Follow Their Leaders?

Here's an idea that I picked up along the way: people don't follow you because of what you know, or what you can do. They follow you because of who you are - how you act and interact with them and other people. They follow willingly because of how you treat them, value them and their work,  help them to succeed, support them, teach them, and learn from them.

Of course, the things you do, know how-to-do, and teach them to do, are important to the organization, but the organization isn't a "who" - it's an "IT" - a mental construct that is inorganic in structure, like an Organization Chart, but filled with real people doing real things - tasks that interwoven with everyone else's tasks make the organization, in a way, "alive". To the extent that you can help people learn the things you know and coach them to actually do those things is a measure of leadership - and willingness of others to follow you. it's coaching that makes the difference.

This is why I talk about sales "management" in a kind of abstract way because I firmly believe that people don't need to be "managed" .... they need to be given the knowledge, information, training, support and COACHING to manage themselves. You can manage things, systems, processes, planning, inventory, but people you have to lead. Leadership isn't about what you know or can do, or have achieved, but what you can help others do or achieve. How many great coaches in sports have been able to develop star players who play at a far higher level than the coach ever achieved? Of course, these players come to the game with already high levels of natural talent and playing proficiency that has been developed at lower levels of play. This is not usually the case in businesses like ours and our "managers" often allow some of these people to fail through simple neglect of the basics I spelled out above: learning, coaching, observation, feedback.... the basic formula of true coaching and development.

One other major weakness in retail organizations - particularly narrowly focused ones such as furniture stores - is that there is no written game plan (how we play) to guide them. While in sports there have been such notable innovations as the West Coast Offense which is a defined way to pay - a game plan that all players and coaches understand. The point is - there's no West Coast Offense in the furniture business. When I developed Customer Driven Selling along with other members of our company way back in 1993, it was an attempt to provide our clients with such a "way-to-sell", and now my newest effort titled "Essential Success Selling" carries this onward for today's retailers who face a world of different obstacles, problems, and opportunities. We're all up against the on-line sellers these days and they are doing great - mostly because of price issues and ease of shopping from home. Stay tuned for more on all this