Is your leadership style motivating?

I love reading and chatting about leaders and their styles. Having worked in different size companies and under different managers (or bosses, as I would call them), I frequently got myself observing and studying people and what motivates them.

Being a leader myself, I try to be true to my style without imposing; try to be flexible and open to better and innovative solutions, and watch closely on ways I can influence my team.

One of the managers who I worked for in the past, for example, was one of my best coaches: she taught me how not to be effective or brilliant, and gave me a pretty good idea on how bosses are not necessarily leaders. She showed me how not to be a consistent and effective as a leader.

Sounds sarcastic? Maybe, but she had that intimidating style that would at least inhibit any kind of creativity or initiative, and believe me, you would not want to confront her. Ever.

She thought that by micromanaging she would guarantee results, and gosh, was she wrong…

She had difficulties on understanding her team members individually, and she did not take the time to get to know us. We were simply afraid of failing so we would avoid trying, unless we knew exactly the path or means that she wanted us to use. It was her way or no way, and she would end up y doing it herself, which was frustrating and built serious insecurity.

Actually, thinking back in time, I had more than one leader whose style was just not motivating– and after talking to several peers, colleagues and even random people, I concluded that it is just pretty common.

So, how can we be leaders that motivate? Here are some thoughts:

1-     Take time to know each member of your team: they are individuals, do not necessarily think collectively or exactly like you.

2-     Listen to their ideas: I know it sounds unbelievable (a little sarcasm here), but they might actually have better ideas than you!

3-     Give them the chance to work their own path to the results you need: you know that all the roads take you to Rome, right?

4-     Do not micromanage them: unless they ask for your very close supervision, give them room to work, be innovative, make mistakes and learn- they are not perfect, but neither are you.

5-     NEVER, and I repeat NEVER do their work for them: there is nothing more frustrating and diminishing that showing you do not believe in your team members. How would you feel if your supervisor did that with you?

6-     Praise the small victories: each right step, each winning should be celebrated.

7-     Do not praise just to criticize right after: first of all, criticism does not help people grow, feedback does. People are smarter that you might assume and, after a time or two, they know what is coming after the praise, and they will not only dismiss your comments, but will be defensive to your feedback. If possible, separate the coaching moments from the praising ones.

8-     Value each one of your team members as if they were indispensable: we all know everyone is replaceable, but if they feel valued, important and special, they will want to always do their best for you.

9-     Challenge them: if you know your team as individuals, you will know how to challenge them and how strongly you can push.

10-  Ask for feedback: no one that knows them better than themselves: they can give you extremely valuable information on how they can help you be most successful!

As I said, just thoughts that I gathered after observing and being led by different managers, and after trying and changing so many times as a leader.

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