Followers’ Four Basic Needs: Gallup’s research focuses not just on looking at how leaders behave but also on followers. A leader charging forward without followers is just out for a walk! The good folks at Gallup looked at 10,000 followers and asked two questions: 1) What leader has the most positive influence in your daily life? 2) List three words that best describe what this person contributes to your life. The results were remarkably simple and profound. Here are THE 4 things followers want from their leaders: Trust, Compassion, Stability and Hope. Actually, not far off from what our ancient friend Aristotle said 2,500 years ago—people want leaders to have Ethos (Trust), Pathos (Compassion) and Logos (Stability & Hope).
1. Trust: Employees who trust leaders are much more likely to stay around. Things get done far more quickly in high-trust teams. Respect, integrity, and honesty are the results of high trust. Trust happens through behaviors. And, in high-trust organizations there’s more a presumption of trust than a lot of chatter about it. Whereas on low-trust, struggling teams, there’s a lot of discussion about trust. Remember, trusted relationships will “trump” competence any time. Better to be trusted than be the smartest person in the room!
2. Compassion: People want leaders who care about them. It’s that simple and, for some leaders, that difficult. When 10,000 employees were asked what great leaders contributed to their lives, they said: Caring, friendship, happiness, and love. And when 10 Million (!) people were asked whether their supervisor or someone at work cared about them, the ones who answered yes were more engaged, productive and most likely to stick around (retention). Moreover, not only do leaders have to care, the culture of an organization has to “have a heart.” When that happens, employees do great things and hang around.
3. Hope: While people want stability on a day-to-day basis, they want hope in the future. People in the Gallup survey used words like direction, faith, and guidance. When asked if they had faith in their organization, the 69% who answered affirmatively were the most engaged employees in their companies, as compared to a miserly 1% of those who answered negatively about hope in their company’s future. Just the mere act of initiating something new can offer hope in the future for employees. Such hope and optimism gives employees something to live and strive for. Without hope, despair and paralysis take over. However, most managers work on day-to-day problems rather than hope-filled strategies of the future. It’s easier to take a phone call than to plan a strategy for financial growth into the future. Add to that the quarter-to-quarter mentality of many corporate boards and their CEOs and you see how establishing hope in the future is as difficult as necessary.
4. Stability: No one likes constant chaos. And most people like stability—especially in times of threat or crisis. A steady hand on the rudder of the organization calms people down and allows them to make better choices. Those surveys by Gallup used words like security, strength, support and peace. People want stability and confidence. Those who are particularly confident in a company’s financial future are nine times more likely to stay with the company, rather than jump ship. To ensure financial stability, make the numbers open to everyone….be transparent.