LEADERSHIP / NOV. 08, 2015
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5 Surprising Ways to Encourage Employees to Follow the Leader

As a leader, you hope that your employees will be mesmerized and follow your leadership as if you were Khaleesi –except you are not freeing people. Your mesmerizing power is supposed to get employees to follow your lead as you demonstrate, through your own behavior, how they can become more productive in their own jobs. There are some surprising ways that you can encourage employees to follow your lead. Consider the following five ways to inspire loyal employees in your company.

See Also: 4 Leadership Lessons We can Learn From House of Cards

1. Don't Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

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Usually you think that leaders need to be perfect in order to encourage followers. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes it pays off to let go of your fears as a leader and not be afraid to make mistakes. It might sound surprising, but demonstrating your imperfections to your employees can show your humble side. Of course, you want to try your best to be a good leader who follows the rules and behaves in a professional manner each day in the office. Yet, there are going to be days when you make mistakes. Don’t run and hide when that happens.

Be brave and own up to your mistakes and show your employees that you’re not perfect and you don’t expect them to be perfect either. Perfection is overrated, because it’s simply not possible to be perfect in everything you do. When you are a leader who has embraced his faults and realizes that making a mistake is okay, you will inspire loyal followers in your employees. They will see that you won’t knock them down for making a mistake. Rather, you’ll come right alongside them to assist in making things right again.

2. Act a Little Crazy Sometimes

Bosses need to be respectable and effectively manage the office. Otherwise, they walk the line toward cultivating anarchy in the workplace and won’t instill any loyalty in their employees to follow their lead. Sometimes you need to find a balance and shed your uptight exterior and cross the line to crazy town. Now, remember that you need to stay balanced in your approach. Shaving your head and running around the office in your birthday suit is a little bit extreme. That won’t inspire anyone to follow you—except if they’re trying to capture you and send you off to the loony bin. However, when done right, you will be training dedicated employees who will follow you to the ends of the earth and back again.

Acting a little crazy—in a good way—means that you throw caution to the wind and shake up the routine a bit. Do something out of the ordinary like standing on the table at your next staff meeting to get everyone’s attention. Be excited when leading the meeting and your employees will catch the spark that you are igniting the room with. Join your employees at the next Happy Hour and let loose on the dance floor. Step outside your comfort zone and show your employees that you actually are a fun person to be around. You’ll garner their undying love and support for your crazy leadership style.

3. Embrace Your Unique Quirks and Qualities

If you want to encourage your employees to follow your lead, you need to embrace your unique qualities. Give them something interesting to hold on to as they make a connection to you and simply have to follow after you. Ok, so maybe you are extremely eccentric and take care of homing pigeons on the rooftop of your apartment building, yet, you’ve never told any of your employees about this. After all, you are the boss of the company and want to present a polished professional persona. Wrong! It’s perfectly fine to be unique and demonstrate in the workplace the various eccentric qualities that set you apart from other leaders that your employees have had in the past. Just remember not to go overboard.

You don’t want to showcase your obsession with Marilyn Manson and come to the office looking like his twin. You’ll probably cause more of a distraction, than cultivate your employees trust in you. Consider what makes you unique—while still remaining professional—and showcase those qualities and quirks in the workplace. Maybe you enjoy visiting the farmer’s markets and you maintain a very healthy lifestyle through an organic diet. Bring that quality of life to the workplace and have a lunch and learn with your employees about how they can implement a healthier diet into their own lives. Bring in a healthy lunch for everyone to eat. Find ways to creatively demonstrate your uniqueness in the workplace. That will show your employees that you’re an interesting person and are worthy of their interest and loyalty.

4. Cultivate Your Inner Circle

Another way to encourage employees to follow your lead is to cultivate your inner circle of followers. Work with a trusted few employees to develop that intimate professional relationship with. You’ll be surprised how easily it will be to generate support from the rest of the employees. People will wonder how they can get into the inner circle. They’ll be looking for ways to get close to you. That will make your job so much easier when trying to inspire loyalty among your employees.

You won’t have to chase them down and force them to like you or be inspired to follow you. Simply because they have an innate desire to belong, they’ll want to become part of your inner circle. They’ll do whatever they have to do in order to gain access to that exclusive group. Cultivating this inner circle may seem counterintuitive to the process of encouraging all your employees to follow you. However, sometimes taking the surprising route of the road less traveled is the way toward success.

5. Use Bribery as an Incentive

As a leader, you don’t necessarily like to use the word bribery in the same sentence as inspiring followers. However, bribery can become an invaluable incentive for encouraging employees to follow your lead. Of course, as with everything in life, you don’t want to go overboard. If you continually have to inspire your employees to follow you exclusively through bribes, then you’ve failed in this process. Yet, when used the right way, bribery can become the persuasive tool that you need to get your employees to follow you.

Offer an employee incentive program for individuals who achieve the highest sales or increase in monthly leads. When employees realize that they will be rewarded for their efforts, they will automatically associate that with your leadership. They become unconsciously bonded to you and want to follow you wherever you’ll lead them. Choose an employee of the month who has the most improved work performance that you honor and award movie tickets or a gift card to. Recognize employees on their birthdays and bring in bagels or donuts on their special day. Of course, all of these incentives need to be implemented within reason according to your budget.

See Also: How to Use Your Most Important Leadership Skill

Leadership is a tough job, but it also has its perks when you are able to inspire a loyal following of employees. In order to be successful in business, you need to have devoted employees who work hard each day and want to see the company succeed. Think outside the box and come up with creative and surprising ways to encourage your employees to follow your lead.

Have you tried to encourage your employees to follow your lead? What types of surprising ways did you use to inspire their loyalty?

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