Some people are born leaders. They always know the right things to say and what needs to be done to achieve their goals. Naturally influential, they easily attract the respect of their followers and colleagues, able to motivate others to work towards a greater objective. But how do they achieve this? And how can others, especially those just beginning to take on a leadership role, emulate their success?
If you feel that you have been unsuccessful in gaining the respect of your employees, have been failing at motivating them, or just simply could not charm your way out of a paper bag, here are 5 ways you can improve yourself as a leader.
Do rather than dictate. Just because you are a CEO, a supervisor, or manager, does not automatically make you a leader. Telling everyone what to do and making demands while you sit behind your desk is less than inspirational. Being active and involved in a project, actually getting your hands dirty, will show your employees that you know what you’re doing and that you care about the project. Rather than micro-managing or attempting to control your employees, be one of them. Work alongside them. Just as with team sports, seeing your team captain out there taking hits and putting his heart in the game will inspire you to play harder. Be an example of what you want them to be.
A lot of the time, following your gut and listening to your instincts can be extremely effective. But other times, what you may think is the best solution might not be. Before you make an important decision, get the opinions of others and open your mind to other ideas. What is pressing them? What works for them? What issues are they seeing that you are not? Not only is listening helpful to getting a better handle on the bigger picture and recognizing the existence of other factors, but it also shows your employees that their input matters to you. It shows that you care, and that you are not just out for your own personal interest. Working as team is important, and you must remember that not only are you leading a team, but you are part of that team.
One of the best ways to bolster productivity and earn the respect of your employees is by showing that you respect them and appreciate the work they are doing. Effective employee recognition begins with finding meaningful and creative ways to make someone feel like the work they are doing is valuable to the company. You don’t have to be their best friend. Just show that you care. Realize that your employees are people who are trying to earn a living and have everyday struggles just like you do. Say thanks, and mean it.
4. Be Positive & Stay Calm
All too often I have dealt with Debbie Downer managers. People who have taken on so much responsibility that they become nervous wrecks, stressing out over anything and everything and taking out their frustrations on their employees as a result. I understand that work can be intensely consuming and overwhelming. With all the fires that need extinguishing, it is easy to forget about the feelings of others. Take a moment to realize that negativity can quickly permeate a room. If you are expressing yourself in an unpleasant way, others around you will might end up feeling anxious too. They will also be less likely to want to be around you or seek your advice. If you want people to follow you, and want to follow you, make it a positive experience. Don’t stress the little things, make yourself dependable and accessible so that others will give you the support you need. That way, everyone wins.
5. Be Extraordinary
As a leader, you are supposed to stand out. The greatest leaders are not just any Average Joes, but people who appeal to a crowd because they offer a new, exciting perspective that people want to be a part of. They are so passionate that they want others to share in it. They are inspirational because they demonstrate confidence and offer something that’s real. People should feel that, under your guidance, they can accomplish anything they strive to accomplish. And they can, as long as you truly want to share your dreams of success with them. Engage them. If you are extraordinary and allow others to be extraordinary, then extraordinary things will most certainly happen.
“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” —Douglas MacArthur