to be a Leader at Work
have at least one person who is a natural leader. When
it is announced she will be leading a new team, employees
line up to join. When he asks for a volunteer for an
assignment, people jump at the chance. Employees turn
to her as a mentor, or look to him as a role model.
Meanwhile, others in the
organization are struggling to do their job with too few
human resources. So how do natural leaders do it? What
is their secret to getting people to go the extra
mile for them?
Although many effective
leaders are naturally charismatic, there are a number
of leadership behaviours that can be adopted by anyone
who wants to have greater support from other people.
While some leadership techniques may sound manipulative,
a wise leader knows the best results come from having
people provide their support willingly.
As U.S. President and
General Dwight D. Eisenhower defined it:
is the art of getting someone to do something you want
done because he wants to do it.
People naturally want to
follow a good leader. After meeting with an effective
leader it is not unusual to feel uplifted, inspired and
motivated to work towards a common goal.
Effective leaders make
others feel good about themselves as well as the work
they are doing. The leader has a vision of what she
wants to achieve and can communicate that vision to
others in a way that makes people want to be part of
One thing a good leader
typically does is to communicate the big picture, so
that each employee can see how the particular role he
plays makes a contribution to the final result.
In a recent study of
employees at all levels in companies of all sizes, Beverly
Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans, authors of Love ‘Em
or Lose ‘Em, found that “meaningful work, making
a difference and a contribution” was one of the top
three reasons given by 90% of employees when asked why
they remain at a company. (The other reasons cited among
the top three were “career growth, learning and development”
and “exciting work and challenge.”)
When someone understands
why a job that might otherwise be considered menial
is important, that person is likely to be both more
committed and more productive.
People are also likely
to follow leaders they see as positive role models.
If a leader demonstrates a strong belief in something,
it inspires others to work towards the leader’s vision,
even when a situation might appear to be almost hopeless.
An excellent example of a leader who faced this type
of situation is Lee Iacocca. When Chrysler’s fortunes
reached a low in the 1980s, he cut his salary to $1
per year to prove his conviction that things would get
better. They did. Under his leadership, the company
Good leaders not only
“walk the walk”, they “talk the talk”. When they speak
about the future, they are positive and upbeat. Mark
Victor Hansen, a successful motivational speaker and
co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books,
said that even in the early days of his career, if someone
asked how he was doing he always responded that he was
doing fabulously. His enthusiasm won him plenty
of supporters who helped make his vision a reality.
Yet some people feel
the way to get support from others is by telling them
how grim a situation is, hoping that will make them
want to help turn things around. On the contrary, Eeyores
(those who sound like the gloomy Winnie the Pooh character)
may inspire people to start looking for another job,
rather than work to improve the situation they are in.
If you have a tendency
to be negative, but want to inspire others to support
you in achieving a goal, resolve to focus on solutions
rather than problems. If Plan A isn’t working, avoid
bemoaning the situation and instead come up with a Plan
B. If necessary, have Plan C waiting in the wings. Maintain
a can-do attitude and you are likely to attract people
who will support you in achieving your goals.
As well as communicating
their vision, good leaders know they need to communicate
“what’s in it for you” in order to have employees go
the extra mile.
They also understand
that different people are motivated by different things.
For employees motivated by a need for achievement, a
leader explains how the task offers an opportunity to
take on a challenging but achievable goal. Those with
a desire for power are told how their participation
can bring them prestige and lead to greater opportunities.
While employees who are motivated by affiliation need
to hear how they will be part of a team of people working
Effective leaders also
use techniques to communicate their belief that each
team member is important, including remembering and
using people’s preferred names (e.g. not "Rick" if someone
prefers to be called "Richard"). As Dale Carnegie observed,
“the average person is more interested in his or her
own name than in all the other names on earth put together.”
Keys to remembering names include paying attention when
introduced to someone, mentally repeating the name and
using it in conversation.
Good leaders will introduce
employees by name first, rather than job title. They
refer to employees as team members, associates, or colleagues
– never as "subordinates" – and make no distinction
between "essential" and "non-essential" staff or "professional"
and "non-professional" staff. Words have power, including
the power to make people feel whether or not they are
important to the success of an organization.
Good leaders believe
that every team member matters and foster an environment
that makes everyone feel important. It is no wonder
they attract all the support they need to help them
achieve their goals.
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