Effective Leadership: Inspire People & Unleash Talent

The feature image for a blog post on effective leadership.

I’ve worked under a variety of managers: many I considered bosses, and only a select few I considered leaders. You might be wondering—well wait a minute, aren’t they the same thing? Isn’t a boss a leader? This might surprise you, but no—they’re not. Bosses and leaders might hold the same title, and perform the same duties, but they are anything but the same.  

I had a manager once tell me he knew I was a good leader because people wanted to work for me. My team had a reputation of being happy. They were well versed in all aspects of not only their job, but in performing the duties of other departments. Not only that, but they were also constantly given opportunities for promotion. Instead of watching the clock, wishing they could be anywhere else, they’d be willing to stay longer. Here’s what I did to inspire people to work for me.  

Show, Don’t Tell 

People are more willing to work for you if they know exactly what you want. This means you need to guide them. Instead of just telling them what to do and expecting that they know how to do something, take them through your process. Show them that you actually know what you’re talking about, and that you actually know the job you expect them to do. This will reveal that you understand the troubles they might face, and that you will be there when they need you. On top of that, they will know your expectations. That being said, when taking them through the process, listen to their questions and any possible suggestions.  

Listen Attentively and Encourage Ideas 

It’s all about respect. If you want to be respected as a leader you need to reciprocate. People are more receptive to someone they believe respects their ideas. As a leader, you need to understand that you don’t know everything. The people working under you might have some insights into making processes more efficient. That doesn’t mean you have to agree, but you should be willing to consider them. If you’re unwilling to listen to the opinions of your employees, then why did you hire them in the first place?  

Make Smart Hires 

Don’t be afraid of hiring people who might be smarter than you. Your goal as a leader should be to build people up, and you should start by hiring the right people. You want someone who has the potential to either fill your role so you can move on, or someone who could surpass you. This will take time and practice. The last thing you want to do is hire just because you’re desperate. Trust me. This never ends well. You’ll spend more time dealing with the trouble caused by that one employee than you would have looking for the best fit.  

Praise Highly and Create a Welcoming Culture 

You want a team that enjoys working together. This means you need to encourage a team culture that embraces every one of your members. Whatever you do, don’t pick favourites.  Spread the workload around evenly, and don’t always fall on the same person for certain jobs.  

Praise highly and widely, and encourage an environment where people feel comfortable asking for help. Team members should be willing to work with anyone from your team. To do that, you need to be present (when you can) and be constantly aware of your team’s dynamic. As soon as you become aware of any tension, get to the bottom of it and shut it down.  

Over time I’ve found that leadership is a selfless act. It takes a certain kind of person to be willing to encourage the success and development of others and be okay, if not ecstatic, when they surpass you. I enjoy helping others, and take pride in the fact that I helped them succeed. So, if you want to be an effective leader I encourage you to think about a selfless leadership style.