Good leaders share common characteristics. They are compassionate, honest, responsive, fair, courageous and much more. These attributes add up to a person who brings out the best in others. Arguably, this quality is the greatest strength of a leader.
A good leader inspires others to do their best even – or especially – when the chips are down. That is because good leaders understand that they are working with human beings, not machines. So, it makes sense to focus on bringing out the best in everyone around them.
Studies have shown that employees are very responsive to good leadership. An article in Fast Company magazine cites a study conducted by consulting firm DDI and Harris Interactive that shows that 98% of employees want to do their best for good leaders. But only 11% said that they were motivated by subpar managers.
“As a leader your focus changes; your number one priority is to bring out the best in others,” DDI senior vice president Richard S. Wellins tells Fast Company.
But becoming a leader that can positively motivate others does not happen overnight or without practice. Leaders who want to motivate and inspire their team can focus on a few habits that can be mastered over time, adds Wellins.
First, a good leader will zero in on a person’s strengths. Employees are usually hired to do certain jobs but for whatever reason, may eventually be unable to perform specific tasks. This is understandable because everyone is different. Rather than keep the person in that particular position, it is better to find out what they excel at and then find suitable tasks.
While this takes time and effort, it beats trying to find a replacement for an employee. Plus, you get the added bonus of a worker who because you listened to him or her, will do their very best for you and organization.
Second, good leaders have empathy. This means truly listening to team members when issues arise. An empathetic leader will try to see things from someone else’s point of view. Solutions to the problems in such situations are more effective because they take another person’s view into account. Employees will be appreciative and motivated because you took a little time to really understand their issues.
Third, acknowledge good work. Everyone likes to hear positive feedback. It makes one feel appreciated and that their efforts have not been wasted. In the day to day, routine duties, it is easy to forget to praise a job well done. But take a few minutes to offer recognition because no matter how small you may think the gesture is, a few kind words go a very long way.
Fourth, delegate work so that you are not micromanaging. In other words, trust your employees.
“Good managers are careful to not micromanage,” says Wellins. “Their job is to assign or direct general goals in work that needs to be done but they should never do it for the person.”
There is a reason why you hired your employees so you should feel comfortable and confident enough to let them do their jobs. While mistakes cannot be entirely avoided, when employees feel empowered, they will work extra hard to make sure the job is done and done right.
Lastly, make the workplace a comfortable space – a place where employees feel confident enough to do their jobs without worrying about negative consequences if something goes wrong. This can be difficult because as leaders there is a natural instinct to jump into “action” mode if blunders happen. But if you play it safe all the time, then you will stop innovation and creativity in their tracks.
People want to work for someone who they know cares about them and who inspires them. When you as leaders trust the employees, they will feel a closer and more meaningful connection to your organization.
Weaver, Thinker, Doer