What is it that makes us follow one person above another?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
-John Quincy Adams

The ultimate compliment a leader can receive is for a team member to claim they would ‘work for or follow you anywhere’ or in fact actually do that should their leader move to another organisation or industry.

Why do some leaders create inspire more than others?  It takes something extra special for a leader to create that level of commitment and loyalty.

A survey conducted by Gallup Poll asked people to identify a leader and to list three words that “best describe what this person contributes to your life.”

  • Trust (other words cited by followers included: honesty, integrity, and respect)
  • Compassion (other words cited by followers included: caring, kindness, friendship, happiness, and love)
  • Stability (other words cited by followers included: security, strength, support, and peace)
  • Hope (other words cited by followers included: direction, courage, faith, and guidance)

These answers appeared consistently whether describing a leader people had known for a long time or one which was relatively new to them.

Sigmund Freud came up with the concept of transference as the basis for our response to certain leaders and leadership styles.  He believed that people were transferring experiences and emotions from past relationships onto the present.  In effect, we prefer leaders who remind us, usually subconsciously, of people we have loved and respected in the past.

The new leaders are triggering a response which is wired into the brain through the well-trodden neural pathways created at some earlier stage in the follower’s lifetime.

“Leaders instill in their people a hope for success and a belief in themselves. Positive leaders empower people to accomplish their goals.”

When you look at the types of words listed in the Gallup Poll survey results, it is no surprise that we see words like honesty, caring, strength, support and guidance.  These are the words that are very closely intertwined with a positive and caring relationship.

As leader you can create the same sort of feelings in your team members so they will follow you anywhere.  Honest and open communication, sharing, positivity and respect are the qualities you need to show and share with your team. Here is a great article on HBR on Google and Psychological Safety for teams. 

Managing people is one of the most challenging responsibilities, but when done well, one of the most rewarding and satisfying as you have the opportunity to create lasting and positive impact on the ongoing success of the individuals in your team.

Sometimes we find leaders need help in learning or being more effective in some of these areas. This is where we come in.

What do you think? Is there anything above that resonates to you?

About Sonia McDonald

Sonia McDonald Author Coach Keynote Speaker

Sonia McDonald believes we should lead with kindness, from the heart, doing rather than telling and is known for her mantra ‘Just lead’. She leads by example in all these areas and through her one on one practical coaching, leadership training for teams and organisations encourages others to do the same. Sonia has helped hundreds of people on their leadership journey to become the best version of themselves and in turn, inspire and bring out the best in others.

For more than 25 years, Sonia has been on the front lines of HR. She has held leadership positions worldwide and through experience, research and study come to realise what it takes to be a truly great leader.

Sonia has an ability to speak bravely and authentically about her own development as a leader, personal and career challenges in a way which resonates with her audience. She is recognised as a LinkedIn influencer and has become an in-demand keynote speaker, starts important conversations.

She is an award-winning published author and writes regularly for publications such as The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. Sonia has become recognised for her commentary around the topic of leadership, developing work-life balance, championing the up and coming leaders of tomorrow and advocating for women in business and male-dominated industries.

Sonia provides the BEST Leadership Coaching and Programs across Asia Pacific.

Keynote Topics
Sonia will give you peace of mind when booking a speaker. She is a proven world-class professional speaker with the skills to “rock an audience”. Her energy, empathy, kindness, sensitivity, and humour will enhance any event she appears.

1. Leadership Attitude

2. Just Rock It

3. Leadership for Small Business

4. Leading the Next Generations

5. Courageous Leadership

6. Future Leaders of Leadership

7. New Kindness of Leadership

Phone 1300 719 665



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