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Leadership: Worth the effort?


Anyone investing their time to learn about leadership will come away with the concept that they are to be creative, credible, and courageous. An influencer, trendsetter, or pioneer will put their team first and their self-interest last. And the pack leader will know how to own every situation coolly and calmly.

But what do we receive for being leaders? What do we earn from followers rather than what we are to be, ourselves?

Imagine someone in your life that you consider a mentor – someone that you look to for guidance when you come to a fork in the road of life. Think about the way you approach them, the way you speak to them, and the carefulness in which you listen to their ideas. That right there, that’s leadership - the inherent control that person has to influence you because of not who they are, rather who you have made them.

The two beliefs that we are granted from others are trust and admiration and is the telltale sign that you are truly an impactful leader in their life.


Trust behavior is the last thing to be gained in a relationship and the first thing to be lost. It involves a willingness for the follower to be vulnerable, the expectation or belief that the leader will act in good faith.

But how do you build trust – how do leaders display trustworthy behavior? There are five ways according to researchers Ellen M Whitener, Susan E Brodt, M Audrey Korsgaard, and Jon M Werner. They detail these behaviors in their journal Managers as initiators of trust: An exchange relationship framework:

Behavioral consistency -- How reliable and predictable are you across situations and time so followers know what to expect.

Behavioral integrity – How consistent you are when you say and do across situations and time.

Delegation of control – Trust is higher amongst followers when they are satisfied with their level of participation in decisions.

Communication – Your accuracy and openness of timely information.

Demonstration of concern -- Showing consideration and sensitivity for followers needs and interests while protecting them. Not taking advantage of their vulnerability to act opportunistically.

Nothing comes without trust. Trust is the link that builds relationships, partnerships, and followership. Without it, the connection between two entities is hollow and non-existent. And on a river of a trust flows the raft of admiration.


The root of the word admiration is admire, which means "to regard with wonder or approval." It’s the pedestal that we place our leaders on that promotes the feeling of admiration.

Theories of social exchange assume that humans naturally act to preserve our self-interests(money, reward, recognition, etc.) and minimize individual loss. It’s with the sacrifice of self-interest that we place true admiration on those that lay down themselves for others. It is in these social dilemmas where a leader consciously chooses self-interest over the good of the collective that dilutes admiration and destroys the pedestal.

For example, a manager in a start-up may be asked to take a pay-cut to free up capital for the team to complete a project, thus benefitting the team as a whole. This situation has the potential to enhance a trustful and protective work environment because of the volunteerism from top personnel to self-sacrifice for the good of the team.

In the simplest form, to be admired is to be liked. And when you are admired, you become worthy of imitation. And if imitation is the highest form of flattery, then admiration is a pretty sweet trade off for being a selfless leader.

Chase the things money cannot buy: like trust and admiration. That is worth the effort.

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About the author, Tim

US Navy Surface Warfare Officer.
Lacrosse Player.

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