The following is a guest post by Michael Dalton Johnson.
Leadership has as much to do with who you aren’t as it does with who you are. I have found, with few exceptions, that excellent leaders are also good people. They are empathetic, honest, responsible, unpretentious, plain-spoken, and focused, and they set positive examples. Beyond these attributes there is the mixture of two essential elements that fuel successful leadership: communication and passion.
Communicating the team goal with passion is the key. I’m not talking about fiery speeches or contrived pep rallies. I’m talking about continually showing your passionate commitment to reaching the destination, not only with words, but with actions. My advice is that if you’re not passionate about what you are doing, find something that you do feel passionate about.
Some people don’t need to be led. They are completely onboard, know the goals, and have rolled their sleeves up and are hard at work. Others are difficult to lead. These people may lack the confidence to perform what is being asked of them, or they may have issues with authority and being directed.
Then there are those who can’t be led. These people may consider themselves separate from the team. They do not respect the leader and are often disdainful of his or her decisions. They are remarkably uninterested in the team goals and resent any attempt to be led. They won’t be with you for long.
The most subtle and powerful rule you’ll ever learn for leading and motivating people is to tell them who they are rather than telling them what to do.
Example: You’re at the DMV, and you approach the clerk with an exasperated expression. You sigh and say, “This form is confusing; I can’t figure it out.” The clerk looks at you disdainfully and advises you to read the instructions on the reverse of the form, looks past you, and says, “Next.”
Now imagine approaching the same clerk with the same problem. This time, however, you approach her with a smile and say, “You look like the person who can answer a couple of questions for me about this form.”
The clerk smiles back and says, “Let’s see what you’ve got here,” and quickly answers your questions.
In the first example it’s all about you and your problem. In the second example it’s all about the clerk. You began your request by telling her who she is by acknowledging her as an expert with the knowledge that can help you. She immediately wants to prove you right and she does.
The same approach works equally well with employees and vendors.
Example: You call an employee into your office and say, “I need you to get this report finalized. I need it by next Friday.” The employee sighs and resignedly says, “Okay.”
If, however, you were to say, “Jeanette, you came to mind immediately as the perfect person to get this report finalized.”
Jeanette smiles and says, “I’ll do my best.”
Just as in the first example, your initial statement was again all about you and your needs. In the second, you acknowledged Jeanette’s competence and professionalism and expressed confidence in her abilities. She will work hard to prove you right.
Always remember that the quality of your leadership is the primary influence on how your team behaves and performs.
Michael Dalton Johnson is an award-winning publisher, a successful entrepreneur with more than 30 years of business leadership experience, and the founder of SalesDog.com. He’s also the author of “Rules of the Hunt: Real World Advice for Entrepreneurial and Business Success” which has it’s official release this week.
To celebrate the launch of his new book, Michael is offering over $500 worth of valuable business tools from top sales and business growth leaders if you buy his book on Amazon (or Amazon.ca for Canadian readers). To learn more about this offer, visit Michael’s website at rulesofthehunt.com.