Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

On The Art Of Leadership

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.

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7 Comments » | Tags: , , , , , , | June 5, 2012 by |

  1. On June 5th, 2012 at 8:24 PM Lynda said:

    This is a great reminder that what's going on in your head can influence those around you by what you say and how you say it.

  2. On June 6th, 2012 at 11:46 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it, Lynda.

  3. On June 7th, 2012 at 4:53 PM David Mariano said:

    I generally agree with this, but want to clarify that sincerity always has to be there. If you're not being sincere with the compliment/ask and you need someone's help, sometimes it's just better to make the ask. I've seen a lot of leaders ask things like: “Jeanette, you came to mind immediately as the perfect person to get this report finalized.” But when you can tell they're just buttering you up to get you to do something, the result is worse. Just thought I'd add that since I've seen it way to much and it drives me nuts. Thanks!

  4. On June 8th, 2012 at 8:53 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Hi David,

    I agree that it's important that such comments or forms of recognition being done out of a genuine sense of appreciation and need. I'm sure that's why Michael pointed out at the beginning of his piece that the best leaders display empathy to those under their care.

    Thanks, David, for highlighting the need to ensure these communications are done with sincerity and not simply as a means to get people to do your bidding.

  5. On June 12th, 2012 at 9:42 AM Matt Harris said:

    "Communicating the team goal with passion is the key"…

    I cannot agree more. The more successful organisations that I've worked in are the ones where the goal and target are clear. I worked at one supermarket when I was still in college and everyone knew the supermarket's "mission statement", "values" and "way of working"; the message was everywhere in staff areas, notice boards, hanging banners etc.

    Equally, leaders, managers, and supervisors were 100% behind these values, whether it being the lowest cost to operate, or being Britain's best value weekly shop both in terms of what they said and what they did. This leadership passion for the goals, valies and mission even rubbed off on the most cynical of staff (me) and I enjoyed working for them for about 6 years.

    That supermarket went on to be bought by an American counterpart which shares the same values and is still a very big player in the market.

  6. On June 12th, 2012 at 9:45 AM Nacie Carson said:

    Hi Michael,

    I like your comment that some people don't need to be led. I think that one of the great mistakes of leadership is to spend time trying to lead people who are already – as you note – onboard and moving the ball down the field.

    Leadership should be spent maintaining those people (very gently), but focusing on the individuals who are not quite there.

    Excellent point.


  7. On June 13th, 2012 at 9:49 AM Andrea said:

    Thanks for these insights! I can definitely see how this mindset would be helpful for my team. I also agree that it has to be done with empathy and sincerity as tone of voice and body language also play into interpretation. Appreciate the thoughts!

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