If you are a leader of an organization, or you want to be a leader, you need to create ideas that spread. You want to have influence. As a matter of fact, you need that influence in order to lead effectively. That is why you hear all of the time, your title does not make you a leader. People don’t follow titles. They follow people of influence…that they respect.
People follow Contagious Leaders
What does it mean to become a contagious leader? Long before the pandemic, I read an early book from Seth Godin called “Unleashing the Ideavirus.” Godin talked about ways to create an idea that spread, long before social media changed the marketing landscape. This is a powerful book. But as a leader, you need to be more contagious all of the time. You need to spread your ideas, your desired culture, processes and so much more.
So how do you become a more contagious leader?
How do you create more influence and be a leader worth following? While I am not the definitive speaker on this topic (I still struggle to gain traction with every idea), here are 7 traits that I see in contagious leaders.
Have A Purpose and a Passion
One thing that every contagious leader has in common is a real purpose and passion for what they want. They really believe it and are happy to talk about it. They communicate that passion regularly to anyone that will listen. This doesn’t mean they are extraverted and loud. That is certainly not always the case. But they are “all in” on their purpose. If you are not passionate about the idea…why should anyone else be?
The leaders that I see succeed long term always seem to be servant leaders. Not only are they passionate about their purpose, but they also are extremely dedicated to the team that is helping them get there. Being a jerk might win you a battle in the short term, but over time people will lose faith and want to leave. Leaders that serve first end up creating fanatical fans and fanatical teams.
Listen Attentively (and Respectfully)
Once they have communicated the passion, amazing leaders listen attentively (and respectfully) to hear what the audience has to say. That audience might be the team, or it might be the end customer. Either way, they really want to hear what people think. And they don’t just listen to objections with the idea of responding. They listen.
Now that doesn’t mean they always change their stance. But you rarely win someone over by insulting them. By really listening, you not only might gain some insights, but you also give someone a truly wonderful gift…your real attention.
Give Credit To Others
While we have seen those kinds of leaders that are looked at as demi-Gods…I don’t find them to be contagious. I find them to be obnoxious. No one is good at everything. So why act as if you are? Contagious leaders give credit to others for ideas, hard work, and inspiration. By bringing others along in the journey, not only do you spread the credit, you spread out the team of people that are excited to spread the word. Why wouldn’t they? It was their idea too!
Years ago, we put the management style of Steve Jobs on a pedestal. Many people still do. Young leaders often thought that if they wanted to succeed, they needed to be a jerk. But regardless of his vision, I would never want to work for Jobs, and I wouldn’t want my daughters to either. Contagious leaders can be effective and kind. Remember that kindness does NOT equal weakness. And when you are consistently kind (but candid) with your team, you will create a culture when other people’s ideas can succeed too.
Help Others Get What They Want
There is a famous quote from Zig Ziglar that says “you can get anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” This is wisdom, my friends. When your team (or your prospects) know that you really care about them, your influence increases. It’s as simple as that. Contagious leaders spend the time to find out the goals of their team (both with the company and goals outside of the company) and help them achieve them.
Do The Work
You can do everything above, but if you are not willing to put in the work, it will all fall apart. If you don’t know what you are talking about, it doesn’t matter how funny or charismatic you are. Your credibility will be lost. This might be as simple as showing up for the meeting prepared. But if you are not willing to do the work to push the mission forward, why should anyone else be?
Now it’s time to activate the 7th step. Are you ready to do the work? If you want to become a more contagious leader, the time is now. Let’s get out there and make an impact today!