Would Your Subordinates, Would Your Team Elect You as a Leader?

Are you an executive, a manager, or a formal team leader? Your management thus gave you the formal power to guide a group of people towards achieving goals assigned to you. Would this group of people follow you without you having that power? Would they elect you as a leader?


Why is it so important to be elected as a leader?

Research by Zenger Folkman has demonstrated that effective leaders yield superior results, e.g.  exceptional leaders boast a 70% increase in employee engagement and a 50% decrease in employee turnover. This ultimately leads to enhanced business outcomes compared to those who rely solely on their positional power. Being more successful impacts job satisfaction and career perspectives. Yes, it is important!


You rivals

In the scenario where you were hired externally, your team members likely had no say in your selection, no vote.

However, once you are on board they are voters in your constituency. While your subordinates may not have the power to replace you as their superior, they do have options.:

Seeking alternative job opportunities, responding to head-hunters, or ultimately resigning is one option.  Alternatively, they may mentally disengage, giving up on efforts to improve things and become quiet quitters. This disengagement can diminish their effectiveness, potentially impacting others on the team and thus the performance of the whole group. In such cases, management may consider other candidates for your position, introducing a new set of potential rivals.


Why should they elect you?

Let’s consider the following insights from research:

  • Zenger Folkman identified 19 competences which differ most between the least and the most effective leaders. People would elect you because you stick out from the rest in very few of these competences, Even excelling in one or two areas can make a significant difference. Conversely, being average across the board will diminish your chances of being chosen as a leader. When others perceive an “outstanding weakness” you won’t get any votes.
  • Professor Cialdini’s ethical influence studies highlight the principle of “Unity,” emphasizing that people are more easily persuaded when they feel a sense of belonging with the person advocating for a particular idea or direction. Effective leaders foster this sense of unity within their teams. My coaching practice confirms this: Direct Report’s comments on 360° surveys often describe the presence or absence of this feeling of unity very well. When I compare results with a high or low sense of unity with overall leadership effectiveness the relationship between the two becomes evident.

Conclusion: You will get elected as a leader when your constituents feel that you are one of them and when you have few outstanding competences in relevant fields.


Your election campaign

In politics elections take place in intervals of years. In the realm of leadership, elections occur daily. Your election campaign cannot be a conscious effort every 4 years. Developing unconscious, everyday habits that align with the conclusion above is essential.

But what habits to focus on? Ask your constituents! The most solid approach millions have used successfully is a research based 360° survey. It is easier and more affordable than you might think. In addition, it also includes the view of those who decide or influence where your professional journey takes you: your manager, peers and others.  A useful yet less insightful approach is to simply ask your team what goes well and what could be improved.

Seek and embrace input from others. The best leaders I coach all rate high at one of the 19 competences: Learning Agility (see also article How coachable are you?)

People who want to get elected to an office often seek guidance from coaches to increase their odds. If you feel you could benefit from help in your “election campaign”, please don’t hesitate to reach out. If you believe your leadership team, i.e. the organisation’s ’”Government”, would benefit from a clearer understanding of the competencies each leader should focus on and the specific habits and approaches she/he could adopt, we are here to assist.


For factors to consider evaluating the right 360° report for you read: Guide to select a 360° Survey producing results . It includes a downloadable evaluation spreadsheet.


Logra LLC (www.logra.com) is a Swiss based company helping others succeed – world-wide – multi-lingual. “Others” can be companies, leaders or professionals as professionals get more and more leadership and consulting roles without having formal manager’s power or a “Consultant” job title.

One Reply to “”

  1. Erwin,
    Thank you for sharing this article. You ask a compelling question, “Would I get elected as a leader of this group if direct reports voted?” I think for most people it’s difficult to answer that question but for those who have participated in a recent 360-degree assessment they would have a much better sense about their electability.

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