7 Qualities of an Easy to Follow Leader

Are you easy to follow as a leader?

I might ask — are you followable?

Followable may not be a Scrabble approved word — or even a word — but the application and the intent of the word is huge.

A followable leader has people who want to follow. See how elementary I can be?

Seriously, leaders who are easy to follow inspire people to join them on a journey and they develop loyalty from their team.

A couple of good questions to ask yourself: Do people want to follow my lead? Why would they want to follow me?

The best example I know of a followable leader is Jesus. Consider some of the reasons He was able to develop such loyalty among the people He led — why He was easy to follow.

Here are 7 qualities of an easy to follow leader:

Have a vision worth following – A leader needs a vision which lasts beyond today. There needs to be an element of faith and risk to motivate followers. The vision needs to take people somewhere they want to go, but aren’t sure how to get there. It needs to be a “bigger” reality than people are experiencing today. (Do I have to make that point for Jesus?)

Willing to lead the way – A leader who is easy to follow is willing to go first. They pave the way. (Jesus went first. He suffered first. He challenged the tired, worn out system first. Others could follow, because He led by example.)

Remain steadfast – Even through difficult days, a followable leader stays the course. Followers know they can depend on the, resolve, strength and fortitude of the leader during the darkest hours. (Jesus went all the way to the Cross!)

Display patience – A followable leader extends grace and forgiveness when mistakes are made. They pace the team until the team is ready for greater challenges. They equip the team with the proper training and resources to complete assignments. (Jesus gave His disciples — and everyone He met — much grace.)

Challenge followers with high expectations – People want to follow someone who sets the bar for achievement high. There’s no intrinsic value in following easy-to-attain goals. (Jesus pushed the disciples beyond what they thought they could do. Recall Peter walking on water?)

Practice humble servanthood – To be followable, a leader should display humility and be a servant of others — especially those he or she is supposed to be leading. (Jesus washed the disciples feet.)

Place energy into others – Followable leaders consistently invest in other people. They give real authority and responsibility as they encourage and develop other leaders. They even replace themselves in key positions. (Jesus sent the disciples out — and He’s left His church in our hands.)

Would you follow a leader with such qualities?

Which of these do you most need to improve upon?

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20 thoughts on “7 Qualities of an Easy to Follow Leader

  1. Great article Ron! Teamwork and mentoring are qualities that are somewhat covered in your last two points: "Practice humble servanthood" and "Place energy into others". Also, your article at http://ronedmondson.com/2015/09/7-attributes-… touches on this as "Releases more control".

    Leaders should not just delegate, but also really empower people, otherwise the leader can be controlling and end up limiting the team. Over time a controlling leader will often loose their best people and find out they are left with team of "yes" people that may limit the team's growth, or the team may struggle to be successful without the leader. We are called to multiply, and delegation can help by adding to the team, but empowerment has a better chance of multiplication!

    Paul is a good example of team leader. Although Paul is the leader, in places like 1 Thessalonians, he talks about the apostles’ ministry in the plural as “we”. Silas, Timothy, and many other people played a key role the ministry accomplishments. When you look at the long list of Paul’s ministry helpers in the NT and all that they accomplished, you will realize he had a lot of help. Ministry is a team effort!

    In the NT we see Paul mentoring Timothy who not only helps Paul to be successful, but Timothy is also being discipled and prepared for more leadership. A good team thrives even when the leader can't be there in the short term, as the team understands the vision and the strategy, they are empowered, and those being mentored can step in to fill any short term gap. Paul followed Jesus’ example in 2 Tim 2:2 and his reproduction was infinite: Paul -> Timothy -> Faithful Men -> Others, etc…

  2. I’d concur with each of these qualities with the caveat that followership (another non-scrabble word) require equally valuable qualities. Jesus was the perfect leader, but most people chose not to follow him.

  3. These are wonderful training which I strongly recommend that every leader should be able to get, as for me I would like to improve on number 4, that is,Display Patients.

  4. A leader must be patient. We know that we have different characteristics and when a person leads, he has to be patient with these differences. I also agree that a leader must be humble. Without humility, arrogance will be evident and being an arrogant person does not make an effective leader.

  5. I tend to avoid leading the way. I like working alone and don’t like working with a group of people. Leading a group wears out my introverted self. Plus I get easily frustrated with lack of follow through in others. Not sure what I’m going to do with this realization, but there it is.
    Twitter: KariScare

  6. I have to work on truly challenging people with high expectations. What seems like high expectations to me sometimes seems burdensome to them. I need to learn more about how to do that well.

  7. Yep, I see Jesus in these.

    Yep. I'd follow a leader with these qualities.

    As a teacher, I'm working on trying to get my students to see the value of their education–to get the big picture of why we have to learn what we're learning. Because we're usually pressed for time, it's often too easy to get bogged down in getting the content taught that they lose the vision.

    I also need to work on the patience one. I teach 7th grade math. Enough said. =)

    • Suggestion: read the Dave Ramsey book. Financial peace. It may not look relevant for your students. But some concepts can demonstrate the importance of mathematical knowledge. Shirley Bocook, MS