I’ve been struggling with writing about the four needs of followers. I think it’s because what I want to do is share the book and tell you to read it.
That doesn’t seem helpful.
Instead, I’ve been trying to summarize what’s in the book by highlighting key points without just sounding like I’m outlining the book.
That seems boring.
So let me just try direct, real, me to you talk…
The four needs are trust, compassion, stability, and hope.
Meeting these needs makes good things better. Things like engagement, productivity, and collaboration. Meeting these needs also makes the hard parts of leading less common. Things like apathy, conflict, and high turnover.
So in the spirit of making things easy, let’s just touch on each need.
Do what you say you’re going to do. Tell the truth. Deliver news, both good and bad, as soon as you can. Keep people informed. I should note here that telling people to trust you is probably counterproductive. If people tell me to trust them, I’m instantly a little suspicious. Is that just me?
Care about your people! Get to know them. Understand what’s important to them. Spend time with them and listen. Be a human being spending a lot of time with other human beings. Senior leaders can meet this need through programs and policies that recognize that people bring their whole selves to work. Help create an environment that cares for and supports its employees.
Let people know what to expect. Let them know how they are doing in meeting those expectations. Be reliable so they know they can count on you. Share updates on progress towards achieving goals and help them understand how they impact key metrics. This helps them have confidence in the future of the company and the security of their jobs.
Be a force of positivity for your team. Provide direction and guidance in the face of challenges to build confidence in the future. Share plans, progress, and successes. For senior leaders, in particular, focusing on the vision that you’re working toward and initiating ways to achieve it is more important than getting caught up in reacting to current crises.
The role of the direct level leader (you might prefer the term manager or supervisor) is critical. They make an immense difference in the day to day experience of the people they lead and to their effectiveness in the organization.
How you meet these needs may differ depending upon which level of leadership you fill in your organization, but thinking through how these needs are met is time well spent. For you and for your team.