The gentle art of leadership


“What leader has the most positive influence in your daily life?”  Gallup asked that question of 10,000 people to get a follower’s perspective on leadership.  

It’s a great question. No doubt you will have your own nominee.  I will not embarrass the leader I have in mind by publishing his name. People, myself included, would always go the extra mile for him.

After watching him in action, I noticed three key things that stood out amongst the many things that he did, that brought the best out in people.

The first was that he took an interest in you. He knew your name and used it. He took the time to ask questions about your family, kids education, your travel plans, health etc. He was genuinely interested in you and valued you as a person.  

Second, he believed in you. Sometimes, in my experience, he believed in you more than you believed in yourself, at that point in time. In doing so, he challenged you to keep stepping up your leadership.

The third thing he did was to say please and thank you. For example if he had a big problem to solve, he would ask you if you could please take it on.  He acknowledged that you already had a lot on your plate. But he would emphasise that he really wanted you to take it on because you were the right person for the job.

When you had done what he asked and delivered the result, usually ahead of time, he genuinely thanked you. For example, he would acknowledge that it took an extraordinary effort for you to fit it in and that he really appreciated your work.

His gentle art of leadership resulted in followers like myself being only too happy to go the extra mile for him.

There is a wealth of reference material on leadership and what constitutes a good leader. It is sometimes easy to get lost in the complexity of it.  

When viewed from the followers perspective it is pretty simple.  They want someone who treats them with care and values their contribution. Leaders who understand this will get the best out of people and will deliver game-changing results.

Where could you apply the principles of the gentle art of leadership to get the best from your followers?

Best regards, Brian