I’ve been emphasizing the benefits of strengths-based leadership rather than managers trying to fix people’s weaknesses, in my previous posts here and here.

In Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow, New York Times-bestselling author Tom Rath and leadership consultant Barry Conchie reveal three keys to effective leadership:

  1. Know your strengths—and invest in others’ strengths.
  2. Hire people with the right strengths for your team.
  3. Understand and meet your followers’ four basic needs: trust, compassion, stability and hope.

This third point is key because any leader who doesn’t meet followers basic needs will end up with a disengaged work force.

The most effective leaders understand their followers’ needs.

A leader is someone who can get things done through other people.” ~ Warren Buffett, business magnate

People follow leaders for very specific reasons. While researchers have spent the bulk of their studies on analyses of leaders’ individual traits, the follower’s point of view has gone largely unexplored.

Gallup’s study of 10,000 followers reveals four basic needs. They want their leaders to display:

  • Trust: Respect, integrity and honesty
  • Compassion: Caring, friendship, happiness and love
  • Stability: Security, strength, support and peace
  • Hope: Direction, faith and guidance

Think about it: it won’t matter how much a leader values you for your strengths if he or she doesn’t inspire trust, have compassion, demonstrate stability or provide hope. These are fundamentals.

In my work as a coach, I hear about deficits in trust and compassion a lot. When you don’t trust your boss and don’t feel he cares, you end up not caring about your work. Perhaps leaders aren’t paying attention to these basic needs of followers.

What’s it like where you work? Do you experience any of these four basic needs being met by your boss? I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.