Whether as a parent, manager, employee or instructor, most of us are going to experience leadership at some point in our lives.
However, leadership doesn’t come naturally to many of us. We don’t know how to get people to “do as they’re told,” we don’t feel worthy of being put in charge, and we’re not sure how to deal with a crisis when things go wrong. The thought of taking charge of a group of people is terrifying.
Luckily, there’s a powerful way of thinking that can help you to be more effective in getting the very best out of your team members. Let’s look closer…
How Not to Approach Leadership
The mistake many leaders make is to believe that they need to “command” or “shape” their team members. Whether consciously or otherwise, they think of their team as some kind of dough that needs to be molded, which can cause a lot of resistance.
This mindset tends to lead to other mistakes as well.
We might approach leadership by thinking of ways to motivate our team – either with a carrot or stick (reward or punishment).
This instantly creates tension. What is your natural reaction when told to do something? Very often, we feel a compelling urge to do the opposite thing!
But rewards can’t be all that bad, right?
Consider these disadvantages of when we work only for a reward:
- It essentially removes the focus from the work itself. Work is now a means to an end – and the end is the reward, which means we’ll be focused on finishing that work as quickly as possible and not necessarily to the best of our abilities.
- Research has shown that a reward can actually stifle creativity.
- Constantly giving instructions (trying to mold your team members) also prevents your team from being able to work independently of you.
A Powerful Alternative
The alternative, then, is to make the work itself into the incentive. The aim is to ensure that everyone on your team is enjoying working toward the same goals and that they want the same outcome as you.
Now there is no need to motivate – they are self-motivated.
Now there is no need to constantly remind them what they should be doing.
You’ve empowered your team! This means that you aim to reduce your influence and your role (which also happens to be good for your heart rate).
There are a few ways you can go about doing this:
- Give your team ownership. Give your team ownership over their own projects. Let them take control and provide creative input. Give them credit where it is due. Make them proud to be completing work that has their name on it.
- Explain WHAT and WHY, not HOW. Instead of telling your team that they need to do X, instead, tell them that you need to accomplish Y. Then they can decide how best to meet that goal and they can adapt and be flexible as it suits them.
- Allowing your team to work the way that suits them best is a great way to ensure that they stay happy and motivated. That might mean offering flexi-time, or it might mean letting them decide what order to tackle products in.
When you empower your team, your job then becomes to nurture the passions and skills of your team – not to try and control their every move.
With an empowered team, you can also expect incredible results.
This, is the path to effective leadership. Empowerment, enablement and support.