6 Ways Leaders Leave An Impression On Their Followers

Quick note: I’ll most likely be away from the computer today dealing with personal issues. In my absense, Dan Black will be responding to comments until I return.

Every interaction a leader has with their followers leaves an impression. This may be good or bad. Great leaders leave more positive impressions than negative impressions.

We should be striving to lead greatly.

Image by Kevlyn Skee

Image by Kelvyn Skee

So, in what ways can leaders leave an impression on their followers?

There’s many ways great leaders can leave an impression on their followers. Different followers will respond differently and you may not see the results right away, if at all. It’s wise to evaluate your followers and see how they respond to certain stimuli.

As you’re implementing these strategies to impact your followers keep in mind they may not respond how you want them to. That’s okay. Take the feedback given and change the way you’re influencing them.

1. Leave an impression through pain: I’m reminded of the time I got my first tattoo. The tattoo artist had to put me through a painful process. When the tattoo artist touched the tattoo machine to my skin, it hurt. Badly! There were times I wanted the pain to stop. Yet I knew if I had the artist stop, the process would be incomplete and the artwork would not be what I wanted it to be.

Sometimes leaders must use a similar process. We have to cause pain to our followers to encourage them to take action. This may be a reprimand because they failed to complete a task. Use this time of pain to share with them why you’re taking the action and you’ll leave a more positive impression.

2. Spend time with your followers: There’s an old saying that I feel is wrong. It’s “Quality time over quantity of time.” Do you remember when you were a kid and couldn’t wait to see your daddy? It didn’t matter if he was happy or sad, you just wanted to spend time with it. Quality didn’t matter. Quantity did.

This same principle applies in leadership. While we need quantity time with our followers, we also need to make sure there’s plenty of time spent with them. Take them to lunch, offer a webinar, give them access through a private email address.

Give them time and plenty of it.

3. Give the gift of consistency: Along with time, I believe consistency leaves an impression on your followers. When you show up day after day, your followers begin to take notice. They see you’re committed to them and the process of getting the work completed.

Show up and keep your word. This will speak louder than any other action you take.

4. Be honest: People only like liars for a brief period of time. Before long they begin to distrust the liar and their influence begins to fade.

Be a person who tells the truth.

You’ll begin to see followers attracted to you for the fact that they know they can trust you. When you have their trust, you can leave a great impression.

5. Tell great stories: Don’t let this confuse you. I’m not encouraging you to lie. In fact, the previous tip encourages you to tell the truth.

What I am telling you is to use your story to weave and share a great story. Everyone has a creative streak to them. Use it to share the message of your organization and encourage your followers to live a great story.

6. Do the hard work: Great leaders expect their teams to work hard. Great teams expect their leaders to do hard work as well.

Some leaders think once they’ve reached the position of leader the hard work stops. I think this is a great misconception of leadership. When we take on the mantle of leadership, that’s when the true hard work begins.

The steps to create a lasting, positive impressions aren’t always easy. They take dedication. They take sacrifice. They take knowing your team.

But if you’re looking to lead well and leave a great team behind, you must be willing to take the time and effort to leave a positive impression.

Question: What will you do to leave a positive impression on your team?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • DS

    I try to leave a positive impression on the team by serving with no strings attached.

    • That’s a great mindset to have! Thank you for being a good leader.

    • I like that David! When we serve to serve it leaves a different impression on those we’re over.

      • DS

        And on those we’re next to, & report to.

  • I get in the trenches with them. Its the only way to show you can get dirty also. Its not about me, its about them. I do the same work everyone does no matter what.

    • Leading by example is one of the best methods! Thank you for sharing.

    • Yes Lincoln! Team members love to see their leaders working alongside them. It shows they’re not alone.

  • Sincerity is key to me. Similar to #4 people recognize when a leader is blowing smoke and appreciate honesty.

    • I agree – without trust, it is difficult to gain followers. Leaders should always be careful in their approach so that it does not come off as “management technique,” but is truly sincere.

    • That’s a big one, thank you for adding it Charles.

    • Sincerity is great Charles.

  • Implement a clear and compelling vision that involves the whole team. And role my sleeves and work with the team to make the vision a reality.

    • That’s essential. Both speaking the vision out and being an example (through working toward it with your people) is a must. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

    • Bernard, those are two great things leaders can do to leave an impression. Your team recognizes when you’re able to do both of those.

  • Alana Mokma

    #3 Is the most difficult for me and prior to reading your post, I
    have been pretty aware of this. I tend to flow in and out of being
    really active (on my blog). As a result, I believe I have lost a decent
    amount of readership. Although this makes me sad, the decision was made
    when I noticed how my attention to the blog was overpowering my
    attention to my marriage. I hope to get back into a consistent blogging
    schedule again, but on the flip side, our marriage is much healthier now
    than when I was being a consistent blogger.

    think the best way I leave a positive impression is through my
    vulnerability. I am very open and often find ways I can relate to my
    “followers”. The greatest joy comes to me when a reader says, “You are
    dealing with that too? I thought I was the only one!”

    • I have to steal your last line and say, I totally understand how you are feeling! It’s tough to blog or build an online platform while working, being married, raising a child, and church activities. I have not been as consistent about posting and connecting with other bloggers since my son was born. But that’s ok:) It’s about putting focus on our top priorities. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

      • Dan, you should connect with Alana a bit more. She’s brutally honest about her life and is an all around awesome person.

        • Thank you for the recommendation. I think I will.

    • Alana, I know you and I have talked about the consistency issue before. But with you, you realized where the greater priority lies, with your marriage. That should be the number 1 priority in our lives.

  • Respond positively. Don’t lie, but realize that things are usually way better than you think. When someone asks me how I’m doing, I repond with words like Terrific, Wonderful, and Splendid. Even in my worst moments I am blessed.

    • Those are great words to speak, I’m training myself to do the same thing when greeted. It’s amazing how we can quickly go back to saying “fine” or “ok”. Great addition Jon!

    • So true Jon. These past couple of days have felt like hell for Pam and I (we had to put one of our dogs down yesterday). And while this time sucks, we realize it’s not the worst.

      There are friends around us who just lost a mother. There’s family dealing with tornadoes. And much more.

      • It’s amazing how we can get so close to our four legged friends. Sorry for your loss.

  • So I have to ask, what was your tatoo? And why did you get it?

    • That’s my question as well Jon:)

    • While this isn’t a picture of mine, it looks exactly the same –

      It’s a logo for the band Living Sacrifice which was/is a Christian metal band I was really into. Their logo has an F, S, H and G around the edges which stands for Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Thought it represented my life really well.

  • I will start by doing all of these 🙂 I will also step up and do things first, not just tell people to do things I’m not will to do myself.

    • That’s great! I’m sure your leadership and influence will increase once you do. Thank you for being open with us.

    • Awesome Kimanzi! Watching you, that is what you do. You’re a great example.

  • Great points!

    It brought up memories of my dad. He owned his own business and he worked right along beside them. No task was too simple, hard, demeaning or whatever. He never asked one of his workers to do something he wasn’t willing to do as well. He earned their respect that way.

    • Thank you for sharing that TC Avey! That’s the attitude and mindset more business owners and leaders need to have. Thank you for adding to the conversation.

    • Awesome TC. Sounds like your dad was a man who knew how to lead a business well.

  • Sometimes doing something out of the ordinary (like wearing orange or green shoes) or doing something embarrassing will make you memorable to others.

    For example, when I first began commenting using this system, I did not know how it really worked. I finally figured it out, and told Joe Lalonde about it, and now he will remember me as the woman who learned how to use Disqus!

    Standing out from others, even by admitting your ignorance about something, will make you “unforgettable”!

    I have never been a technically adept person, but I don’t mind admitting this.

    Great leaders don’t know e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.!

    • Great point about doing something “out of the ordinary.” That’s important when it comes to new experiences and getting outside our comfort zone. Glad the post helped. Thank you for sharing.

    • Haha, you’re right Lorraine. I do remember you that way.

      You hit the nail on the head with your last sentence. When leaders admit to not knowing everything, they leave a better impression on those they lead.

      • They are also recognized, respected, and remembered (3 Rs?) for this…

        Also, it’s good to know you won’t forget me. 🙂

  • For me it’s a combination of consistency and spending more time. This makes me realize to do this I need to make it more of a priority and schedule a time each week to do this.

    • Great self awareness Sutton! Thank you for reading and sharing.

    • That’s great Sutton. You’ve also got a story that leaves quite the impression. You’re able to show others you’re not the golden boy. You’ve had your ups and downs and yet you’re still moving forward.

  • #5 has so much power – in their book “Made to Stick” Chip & Dan Health talk about the power that stories have in making ideas last. Every organization and department has stories about success – the trick is to recognize and share them.

    • Oh, the power of a great story! Thank you for sharing the book, I just added it to my book list. On a personal level it’s important to be able to share our story via online and in person. Thank you for adding to the topic.

    • Exactly Jonathan! All of the great leaders have told great stories that engaged their audience, whether it be employees or those they’re selling to. Story makes the difference.

  • Spending more time and consistent interaction are the two main factors that contribute in leaving a good impression.

  • I saw the picture for this post and jumped to application before reading the whole thing. I now have your likeness tattooed on my back.

  • Pingback: The Top 10 Leadership Posts I Read The Week Of June 24th | Brian Dodd On Leadership()

  • Pingback: Putting Yourself Out There – Part 2: How to Be Seen As An Authority()