First things first, being a leader does not automatically mean knowing how to lead. There is actually a big difference between merely being a leader or really knowing how to lead.
Maybe you know a story of your own life where you were dealing with a so-called “leader” (let’s say a team leader at work) but you really never had the feeling that you were led.
Leaders who don’t know how to lead are simply profiling themselves with the word “leader” and are assuming that just because they have that title they automatically deserve respect. But that’s far from the truth.
Nobody likes to be given orders by somebody they don’t believe in, somebody they don’t respect or someone that just isn’t an inspiration.
This is why knowing how to lead effectively is such a crucial skill in today’s world.
There are a plethora of so-called “leaders” out there who don’t have a clue about leading. Leading is not something you can learn in a fancy university neither is it something that you automatically know how to do once you are in a “leading position”.
Leading is something very natural and very basic.
It doesn’t take much to be a good leader and if you know how to gather people around you and how to make them WANT to do the things you expect you have a golden ticket to success!
So today we are going to take a sneak-peak at how to lead effectively and the keys for being a successful leader.
I know, there is way more to it than we could cover in a simple post and learning to be a leader still takes time and practice. Nevertheless, what you read here will already give you a major advantage at being a great leader.
Rule #1 – You are human
The first rule to being an effective leader is so simple yet so many people seem to fail at it. No matter what your position at work is, no matter how much money you (might) earn – you are still a human being.
Countless times have I encountered superiors who seemingly forgot that they too are just human beings. Treating your inferiors like garbage and not respecting them, not validating their efforts and acting like they are always wrong are surefire ways to instantly kill your ability to inspire and lead them.
Remembering that you are human is, therefore, an invaluable trait in becoming a better leader.
Simply understanding that human beings make mistakes and that your co-workers, subordinates and most importantly yourself are not except from that rule makes people want to collaborate with you way more.
Showing empathy and being able to understand that mistakes WILL happen not only makes you a better leader but also a better person.
Imagine how your group of people whom you are leading will react if you don’t criticize and condemn them for making mistakes but instead you are showing empathy for them.
Forget hierarchies for a second and remember that we are all humans and we all make mistakes. Being able to talk face-to-face with somebody higher up the hierarchy and feeling that you can meet, talk and discuss on an equal footing raises trust.
Trust breeds loyalty and loyalty is what makes people believe in you even when the odds are against you.
Rule #2 – Questions Over Orders
Questions are way more powerful than orders.
Nobody likes to follow orders (at least I don’t). We like to do things out of our own free will and we like to help.
This is why questions could work wonders compared to giving orders. If you are asking somebody if he or she would do something, chances are that they are far more likely to say yes.
That’s because we all regard ourselves as “good people” and believe that we are benevolent and good-willing. It also gives us the feeling of choice, we can choose to say yes or no to a question but saying yes or no to an order most likely ends up in feeling guilty.
Freedom of choice is what questions give us. Fear and guilt is what orders give us.
Following orders makes someone feel inferior. Answering a question makes someone feel equal.
Thus, the next time you are about to rally out some orders, take a second and think about how you could rephrase that order into a question.
Remember that we all have the desire to be useful, to be good and this desire can be filled by questions instead of orders.
Saying yes to a request gives us a feeling of importance and responsibility whereas accepting an order merely gives us a sense of what we HAVE to do.
Freedom over Compulsion. Questions Over Orders.
Rule #3 – A Sense Of Importance
Humans have a desire to be important. This has always been the case and will always be the case. So giving someone a sense of importance is a major key in leading people.
Imagine that you are the manager of a construction company. Your company constructs and builds houses for people to live in. Naturally, you can not do everything by yourself and you would need people with specific skills to build a house. You’ll need a contractor for the territory, construction workers to actually build the house, plumbers to implement and maintain the watering systems and so on. You probably get the point.
Now imagine that everybody in that company has a sense of importance and knows that “I am working on this beautiful house, it will one day serve as a comfortable home for somebody”.
Everyone from the top down in this company knows that and everyone believes in it. How motivated an inspired do you think these workers will treat their daily work, no matter how hard and repeating it may be?
This is why giving people a sense of importance goes a long way in building loyalty and diligence.
If everybody feels that they are contributing an integral and important part of a task then everybody will do their very best. They will take it seriously and are probably willing to do the extra work just to make sure that the end product is satisfying.
Everybody is equally important in the chain of tasks and everybody has an equal chance to contribute to the bigger picture.
Focus on the bigger picture and let people be a part of this cause!