All Articles Leadership Inspiration What makes a leader worth following?

What makes a leader worth following?

What's the difference between good and bad bosses? And how do we define that quality?

2 min read


What makes a leader worth following?


What do the best leaders do to inspire people to follow them?

Our best bosses didn’t demand that we do what they told us to do. They earned our trust and respect, and we willingly followed them. We engaged fully with our skills and passion to align with that leader, to serve others, and to move our team forward.

Our worst bosses may have demanded that we do what they told us to do, but we followed them begrudgingly. We didn’t trust them. We didn’t proactively solve problems – we waited to be told what to do.

I believe effective leaders inspire followership by investing in their “leadership legitimacy.” What is leadership legitimacy?

Let’s start with organizational legitimacy. This refers to how highly an organization is regarded by those in that organization’s sphere. Is the company trusted and respected? To what degree do people in that sphere honor and embrace requests and demands from that organization?

Organizational legitimacy is built over time, with the organization demonstrating service to its customers, keeping its commitments and engaging to build a better community.

Here’s an example. A municipal police department wants to create organizational legitimacy so that citizens believe the department is serving the greater good, citizens support the department’s policies and officers, and citizens even serve as informal ambassadors for the good the department is doing.

If the department is not seen as serving the greater good, the organizational legitimacy is eroded, which inhibits the organization’s effectiveness.

The same legitimacy benefits apply to both organizations and leaders.

In today’s three-minute video episode just for SmartBrief readers, I explain why leaders need leadership legitimacy and how to build it (every day).

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