The ability to motivate other people toward your goals and your objectives can enable you to achieve almost everything. Indeed, leadership is one of the most powerful drivers of human behavior.

A leader inspires others by being an effective leader, but as a leader, his first question should be “Where will I lead people toward?”

Any person who wants to become a leader must develop a shared leadership vision that is:

  • Realistic – perceived to be achievable. Few things are more demotivating than one objective that you know from the beginning cannot be reached. Perhaps the goal is very ambitious and challenging, but there must always be the belief that it has the potential to become a serious reality one day.
  • Motivating – Descriptive of a future scenario that all stakeholders will wish to belong and contribute to.
  • Flexible – Able to deal with different developments and scenarios that may emerge.
  • Shared – The benefits are not only for you but for the whole team. You must aim to fulfill others and not only yourself.
  • Communicated – Understood and communicated in a clear and simple manner.

An effective leader:

Leads by example: You team needs to know they can rely on you, and this will encourage them to give their best too. To get other people deeply involved, there should be alignment between your behavior and your vision.

Empowers others: People respond well to working situations in which they have influence over decision making. Therefore, in order to get the most out of the people you lead, it is necessary to share control and responsibilities. However good you are at a certain role or task, there will always be another way of achieving it even better. Achieving engagement means giving people ownership of their own projects and responsibilities. Thus good leadership is not prescribing a set of tasks and monitoring them but rather enabling people to flourish and perform to the best of their abilities. Supportive guidance and not insistent instruction, is a hallmark of a good leader. This will create engaged employees motivated to work for you, and eager to achieve your and the organisation's objectives.

Creates a meritocracy: When you notice a team member doing something right, then lavish praise on them and it will encourage them to do the same again. People who perform well should receive encouragement, reward and promotion. Rewarding good performance should form part of a broader meritocratic culture amongst your team, as this will ensure that the best people you manage are motivated, put in the right positions and retained.

Manages bad performance: When training, it is not beneficial to reprimand those who perform badly. Mistakes should be expected as there is a learning curve of trial and error. For experienced team members who perform badly, it is also not useful to punish, offer threats or humiliate. It is good practice to conduct regular reviews with your team so that you can explore issues such as why people are not performing satisfactorily and how you can help them to perform better. This will ensure that you provide all the resources needed to improve their performance, and that you do not alienate them and lose their motivation.

Is self-aware: Being self-aware and self-regulating is highly important in effective leadership. Empathy, emotional intelligence is a key aspect that employers look for in employees with leadership skills. As a leader you have to be constantly self-aware to ensure that you have the right impact.

leading other people

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others” (Jack Welch). Illustration: Megan Jorgensen