“Leadership” & “Followership” are 2 Sides of the Same Coin

I recently attended a local Chamber of Commerce function and had the pleasure of listening to Dr Peter Sun from the University of Waikato speak about ‘Follower-ship’. What is ‘follower-ship’? all of us in the audience were thinking. Dr Sun went on to explain that nearly everyone who is a leader is also a follower in some way, shape or form, either in their business circles or at home. I thought, “Ok – I get it. So, now what?”

Here’s the interesting bit that perked my ears up: there are 4 types of followers, and every leader needs to be able to not only identify which types his or her team members are but also what type of follower they are themselves. Here they are:

sheep in fieldyes manalien headeffective_greatness bracelets


The Sheep – this type of follower is not a critical thinker, is relatively passive, tends to have a low sense of responsibility, and is motivated by interests OUTSIDE the organisation.
The “Yes” Person – these folks are not generally critical thinkers, but are ACTIVE and tend to drive the boss’ agenda. They’ll do anything to curry the favour of the boss.
The Alienated – this type of follower IS a critical thinker, they ARE vocal but they are passive – they will not participate in implementing changes. They will generally be very happy to tell the leader what they think is wrong or what they think should be done about it, but will rarely pitch in and help implement a solution.
The Effectives – these folks ARE critical thinkers, they are VOCAL and they are ACTIVE. Meaning, they are not afraid to speak up and suggest areas for improvement, possible solutions AND will head up a committee to implement positive change. They are always looking for better ways to do things.

Do you recognise yourself and your team members in this list? I do. One key point that Dr Sun shared is that, as a leader, you must not only know which type of follower your team members are, but how to best utilise them.

For instance, if you have a new project that you are implementing, Dr Sun suggested consulting with the Alienated first, so that you can get an unvarnished opinion of your plan (they’ll gladly play Devil’s Advocate).  *By the way, this is a great way to attempt to bring an Alienated person back into the fold, as it were. People become Alienated when they don’t feel heard. (Lesson: if a team member brings you an idea, LISTEN and provide FEEDBACK so that they feel heard, even if the idea cannot be implemented!) Next, Dr Sun suggested you need to onboard your Yes people and Sheep in order to carry out a plan effectively. The interesting bit was to include the Effectives last. His reasoning behind this was because Effectives can slow down the progress of a project by constantly coming up with ‘tweaks’ to the plan and different ways to execute.

The conclusions I drew from this discussion? This concept not only works for understanding your team members, but it also works for identifying how to deal with your clients and prospects.

If you are presenting a solution to a “YES” person, they may quickly go along with your solution because they want to please you but may not have staying power or loyalty.

If your client is an EFFECTIVE, they may want to be able to COLLABORATE with you on a solution that best fits their needs.

An ALIENATED person may have a negative view of your solution and you will then need to anticipate all the objections they may come up with as to why your solution won’t work.

I hope my notes from this session with Dr Sun have been helpful to you in some way. I know I’ll think twice about what type of a ‘follower’ I am and how that impacts the people around me!

Feel free to share YOUR takeaways below in the comments section.

*All photos are ‘labelled for reuse’.


yes_no_maybe_dice“I ran a workshop this week entitled ‘7 Ways To Build a Better (More Profitable) Business’.   One theme or concept that the attendees had some good meaty discussion around was that of prospect conversion.  In other words, how do I turn a prospect (someone who has expressed interest in learning more about my business) into an actual paying customer or client?

I’ll share with you some of the ideas that were discussed because I strongly believe they can dramatically change your business for the better if you choose 1 or 2 and implement them powerfully.

• Get crystal clear on is your ‘why’.  The first thing we all need to understand and get crystal clear on is our ‘why’ – ‘why’ are we in the business or field we’re in?  What do we REALLY want to accomplish?  Getting clear on your ‘why’ will help you get the right message out in the marketplace and help draw to you the kind of prospects you WANT for your business.

• People buy from people.   This is the second thing we need to wrap our heads around.  They don’t buy from a business. So, what this means is that in order to convert more prospects, you must first get to know them as people and vice versa.

  1. show your face in your marketing materials
  2. post a video of YOU on your website so that people can hear your voice or see you ‘in action’
  3. ask them lots of good questions when you’re face-to-face with them about what they do and then connect their answers to how you can help support that with your product or service. When you’re asking questions, you’re building rapport and getting to know someone on a human level.

• Remove risk wherever possible.  All this means is that people like to know that if they try something new (your service or product) they won’t LOSE anything if it doesn’t work for them.  (Chances are in your favour that it WILL work because you’re bothered to do the first two steps above.)  Offer a free trial or a money-back guarantee.

• Educate on Value – WIIFM!     Ensure you speak your prospect’s language! Always speak in terms of the benefits your prospect will enjoy when they work with you, not how smart you are or how advanced your product is!

• Follow up your ‘Not Nows’.  Have a process for staying in touch with those prospects who would LIKE to buy from you, but now is not the time.  You want to be there when they’re ready!  Have a think around what that could look like in your business – a quarterly coffee catch-up, a regular newsletter, etc?

Choose just ONE thing and decide to focus on how you can implement it (or implement it more powerfully) in your business and COMMENT below to let me know what you’ll be implementing!


What’s Your Value Proposition? (or “How much YOU do you let the world see?”)

In other words, what do YOU bring to the table in your industry that no one else can lay claim to?  What would make YOUR target clients want to do business with you?   Your value proposition may not be what you think it is! 

This idea came to light just yesterday while I was chatting to someone about facilitating a workshop at a National Conference later this year.   We began discussing “challenging the status quo” and taking a fresh look at not only HOW business is “traditionally” conducted within that particular industry but also at how each member determined their value proposition. 

We realized that most of that association’s members are over-focused on product details as their unique point of difference when it isn’t that at all!  Successful businesses are all about building relationships (either online or offline) with their prospects and clients, right?  So, it’s really about what each individual person’s STORY is.  Their story, if articulated in a compelling way, has the power to draw clients and potential clients into their world. 

Each one of us is unique, with a unique set of skills and unique life experience.  No one else, EVER, is now or will be just like you.   So, the major point around that idea is this:   to become even more successful, be even more “YOU”!    Let your personality and experiences come through in the messages you put out to the world through your website, marketing materials, office environment, presentations, etc.

In the past, I often looked at my professional headshots, for example, and thought – “Hmm…perhaps I shouldn’t be smiling quite so much.  Maybe I should wear a black suit.  How about if I look more stern?  After all, I’m a ‘PROFESSIONAL’.”     You know what?   I like my headshots just the way they are – I DO smile a lot and I love to laugh.  I love beautiful coloured clothing.  I’m NOT stern and serious all the time.  So – my photos represent me being “ME”!   

When was the last time you checked to see how much “you” showed through in your business?   It might be time for an audit!

Zero To Hero In 25 Years

    I’ve been on my public speaking journey for over 25 years now. I guess it all started in Intermediate school when I was a cheerleader and slowly developed throughout my different working roles – running educational seminars as a Financial Adviser, facilitating meetings with my team while with a large hotel company, facilitating large networking events, facilitating group coaching sessions and recently, a bit of musical theatre!

While having tea with a friend today, I was reminded that – at one point in my life – I was not brimming with self-confidence!   I was relating my story of shifting from a very small high school (my graduating class had a whopping 50 kids) to the University I attended (Michigan State University), which had a student population of 40,000 – many of whom lived on campus.   My friend said – “that’s like an entire town in New Zealand!”

What she didn’t know until I told her was I was TERRIFIED during my first month at Uni because of the sheer size of the place.  But, I did such a good job of hiding that fact that I actually caught the eye of my now-husband who was in the same maths class as me.  Go figure – he once told me that he noticed me because of how CONFIDENT and CALM I appeared! (I later confessed that it wasn’t actually confidence, it was terror.)

Now, I’ve developed “real” self-confidence over the last 25 years, but what I want to share with you today from this little walk down memory lane is this:  if you’re asked to step up and speak – to a group of colleagues, a networking group you’re involved with, a sports team – and it’s not really your cup of tea, you absolutely CAN appear calm and confident even though you may be shrinking in terror on the inside!

Here are the basics that got me through in the beginning

  • Stand up straight – your posture says a lot about how confident (or not) you feel.
  • Breathe and project your voice – as soon as you stop breathing, your voice rises and you SOUND scared.
  • Make good eye contact with your audience – keep your eyes moving from person to person  around your audience…it’ll make you look like a pro (and help you feel like you’re just talking to one person and not a whole group of ‘em).
  • Smile – it will not only help relax your audience, it will help you relax, too.
  • Practice  – know your topic and try your best not to “wing it”.

I suppose, in relation to projecting confidence, you CAN indeed, ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ and learn how to control the fear, even if you never totally eliminate it.

So, get out there!  You CAN do it. 

Still MORE Tips on How To Become A Better Presenter

I am grateful that I often receive favourable comments and feedback after I “give a talk” or present on a given topic.  When I stop to think about WHY my audiences seem to consistently take away something of value, I arrive at the following conclusions (I hope some of these will help you as you construct your next presentation!):

1.)     Tell STORIES!  Each main point of your presentation should have a great story built around it that helps get the point across in a very palatable, entertaining way.  Your audience is more likely to remember the story you told about how your client actually USED one of your products than they are to remember a list of facts about your product.

2.)    Don’t over-rely on statistics and quotes from OTHER people.  Your audience is there to see YOU and hear YOUR views.  While startling statistics can (and should) be used appropriately to capture attention, they should not be a main point – they should serve to support one of your main points.

3.)    Get your “mojo” working and bring ENERGY to the platform.  No one likes to listen to a speaker drone on and on in the same, flat tone of voice (I’ve sat through more droning University lectures than I care to remember).  You will not capture your audience’s attention and imagination by standing stock-still behind a lectern (I like to call it a security blanket.)  Move around the stage with intention and vary your tone of voice and volume levels throughout your talk in order to help you maintain the audience’s attention.

4.)    You don’t have to tell jokes or be funny.  A little self-deprecating humour is often a good thing (I invariably let the audience know that I’m a “recovering American” living in NZ and this often gets a chuckle) but don’t overdo it.  BE YOURSELF!  If you’re not naturally funny in your everyday life, don’t try to be funny on stage – it will fall flat.  There are plenty of ways to engage and entertain your audience without resorting to humour.

Try video clips embedded in your presentation, or stories (see point #1), or vivid images (a picture is worth a thousand words, right?), or as I often do, draw up a “live” diagram or chart on a whiteboard or flipchart (depending up on the size of the room).

I’d love to hear your feedback or comments on your speaking experiences and what works well for YOU!