Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

A track record, my kingdom for a track record.

In my last blog I spoke about leaders needing to engender trust, because when people trust they feel safe, lean towards you and are more willing to listen to you. When people don't trust you, they feel wary and back away from you.

For people to begin to follow you, they need to have confidence in you. There are a couple factors that immediately come to mind that will produce that.

People don't care how much you know or can do,
until they know how much you can get done.

Nothing gives a person confidence as much as having already done something on multiple occasions that produced a positive measurable result in a similar area that they are now proposing to do again. Believing you can do something that you have been trained in, but that you have never actually done means you are unproven. As a result you are already off on a lie, especially when people either ask or are wondering what your actual experience and results have been.

A second factor is more about style than substance. In a word it's about having "swagger." Swagger is different than bravado, brazenness, chutzpah or arrogance and others are drawn to people with it, because they have swagger envy. Thus people are following not exactly out of trust or confidence, but out of envy.

I have swagger envy, especially of people who have quiet swagger and who don't have to resort to hyperbole or embellishment. When I think of people who have it, people like Oprah Winfrey, John Wooden and Clint Eastwood come to mind. My mentor, Warren Bennis, has it.

I also think of Presidents and Presidential candidates who have had it and how it worked for them. John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and even George W. Bush had it. Al Gore, John Kerry, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, MIke Dukakis, George H. Bush didn't have it. John McCain doesn't have it; Barack Obama does, however it tends towards the evangelical similar to Jesse Jackson.

Who do you know that has swagger? Is it something you wish you had?

Stay tuned for Commanding Respect (Part 3)