Soul Trained’s 6 leadership Yes-Do’s

[as opposed to leadership no-no’s]

Soul Trained
5 min readSep 14, 2021

Behavior is contagious. We are wired to copy each other. It’s just one of the ways in which we learn, develop, and grow.

In our early years we copy our primary carers and older siblings. At school age we model our teachers and our peer group, and as we professionally mature we tend to adopt the behaviors and ways of working of those who we work with. In fact, the behavior of people who we think of as leaders, or as being senior to us, is likely to have a greater influence on the way we show up.

And, by the way, this is true for all behavior — whether we deem those behaviors to be constructive or destructive.

Our behavior and professional relationships are the wellspring of any organizational culture. The way we treat each other, show-up for each other, and talk about — and to — each other, especially in times of stress and challenge drive the way in which employees experience their company’s culture.

Because of the contagious nature of behavior and the psychological power dynamics at play, a leader will dictate the type of culture that’s created around them as a direct result of the leadership behaviors they use.

In other words, leaders get the culture they deserve because of the behaviors they deploy.

In this article we share a handful of leadership yes-do’s which will support you in becoming a leader worth following and in creating a culture that is worth experiencing.

Leaders who are worth following…start with ‘Why?’

Leaders who are worth following will invest effort and energy into articulating a clear and compelling ‘Why?’ for their team. Articulating a ‘Why?’ means thinking through and spelling out a shared purpose and direction. It answers the questions, “Why does my team exist?”, “To what bigger picture goal do we contribute?”, and “What business imperatives wouldn’t happen if my team didn’t exist?”

It’s an important task because, as Simon Sinek tells us, “People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.” When we know ‘Why?’, we can be unified, we can make smarter decisions, and we can navigate a way forward with greater ease.

Why? The answer to the question ‘Why?’ taps into our inner source of motivation and is the fuel to our personal engine. As Herman Cain once said, “Nobody motivates today’s workers. If it doesn't come from within, it doesn’t come at all.”

Leaders who are worth following…create the conditions for their people to be successful

Mushrooms grow best when you keep them in the dark and feed them crap. This does not work for humans. They work best when they have context, access, and information. This does not mean you share anything and everything willy-nilly; caution and care is always important when communicating. But it does mean that transparency and openness are crucial if you want to be someone who is worth following.

Remember this, it is the leader’s role to make their team look good, not the other way around. It might help you to think of you having a supporting line into them, rather than them having a reporting line into you!

Leaders who are worth following…are role models

It is important to remember that you are always role modeling something. So the question is, are you walking the kind of walk and speaking the kind of talk that you want others to emulate? Because they will.

A mentor once told me that the quickest way to kill creativity is to let the leader speak first. This simple statement reminds us of the many ways in which a leader can overtly/purposefully or covertly/accidentally influence their people in a certain direction. Next time you offer an idea or an opinion, know the weight it carries and the influence it will have within the group. Sometimes what you believe to be a suggestion may get enshrined as lore.

Leaders who are worth following…don’t walk by

Just as leadership is a behavior not a title, accountability is a verb not a noun. Of course the noun-type-of-accountability does exist — in the form of RASCIs, job descriptions, process matrices and all of the other paraphernalia that is designed to get people to do what you want them to do.

But the truth of the matter is people don’t do what they’re told, they do what they are shown. Which is why the verb-type-of-accountability is so important. Leaders who model this type of accountability don’t walk by in that if something needs doing, fixing, or changing, they will personally take care of it [or they will bring the right people together to do it, fix it or change it].

Leaders who are worth following…bring their people with them

The word “journey” has, over recent years, become a metaphor for the experience many people have in relation to their work, their life, their growth and so on. Life is not just one journey, but a series of them and when we consider that frequency and pace of change in the world of work, we can also see just how many new journeys that people are thrust into on a daily basis.

Without followers you are not a leader — no matter your position, pay grade, or title. The task, therefore, of the leader is to artfully and effectively bring their people with them. Whether they do this by leading with empathy, managing change well, by being clear and decisive while being collaborative and engaging, by helping your people feel supported and recognized for their contribution, or by steering them forwards through well-timed feedback, coaching, or guidance.

Leaders who are worth following…learn from what worked and what didn’t

A wise person once said, “It is not the falling down that matters but the manner in which we rise afterwards that counts.” When a leader recognizes that they are a work in progress and that they don’t know everything, they are more able to ask for help when they need it, or accept it when it’s offered and when they aren’t perhaps aware that they need it. They know this is a sign of strength, not weakness.

In closing, while there were 000’s of new books published last year offering different blueprints for leadership, we’re here with a counter narrative. We believe that there is no one way to be a leader, there is just your way and that becoming a leader who is worth following is really about being yourself, but with increasing amounts of skill and behavioral flexibility. At Soul Trained we won’t give you the leadership recipes, but we will help you to become an amazing chef.



Soul Trained

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