A good leader will have integrity. It’s a characteristic that a team can “get behind”. They will be able to be confident that the person they are following will not only not do what is wrong (avoidance – potentially passive) but they will do what is right (active). The leader will also have the traits required to ensure that the team doesn’t stall from analysis paralysis or indecision (see previous posting on “True Leadership”). Unfortunately, all of that merely allows the team to be open to follow. The next challenge is to give them faith that the journey is worth the objective.
People that simply show up to work every day to accomplish the tasks that happen to emerge are not inspired. They are merely trading hours for dollars. Instead of team members going through the motions, you want your team to be assessing whether their time is being invested (as opposed to spent) in the most optimal way to move the team toward the objective. You need to inspire “foxhole mentality”.
The team needs to see the leader committed to the objective. Then they need to see that the team has a fighting chance based on the tools that are available to achieve the goal. Finally, they have to see that other team members are buying into, and advancing toward, the goal. Once they have those things in place, they will want to “watch the back” of their teammates, make sure they are pulling their own weight and selflessly help others on the team when they’re struggling. They won’t want to let their team down.
Your team members can have different backgrounds and viewpoints but they accept that they have the same objective and are willing to genuinely cooperate. It’s effective interdependence. It doesn’t matter whether they like each other or care about the same things in other parts of their lives. If they know the common goal and have been inspired they will work interdependently to achieve the desired outcome.
So, while positive personality traits are an asset to a leader, they are insufficient glue to hold the team together, or fuel to keep them moving, to achieve any long-term goal. They have to have the leadership traits that are listed in a previous blog posting (“True Leadership”) and inspire a passion for the objective. To achieve success as a leader that your team respects, make it more about the goal than about you. Lead without people knowing they're following.