So you call yourself a leader: Why would anyone follow?

By Paul Slezak - Jun. 5, 2012
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Effective leadership, managing teams, motivating staffPeople don’t leave companies, they leave leaders.

Dissatisfaction with a manager’s leadership style (or lack of it) is one of the primary motivations for switching jobs.

So how do you tell if you’re an effective leader? By the results your team achieves? Yes and no.

Achieving goals is not necessarily an indicator of good leadership. It could be the lucky result of having a good team who are all achievers in their own right. It could also be because the bar is not set particularly high and the results could be achieved by anyone.
Achieving goals is one sign of good leadership, but not the only one.

Team morale is the other important indicator. If people are just going through the motions and talking behind your back, it means they don’t respect you and, more importantly, they don’t believe in you.

On the other hand, good team morale doesn’t necessarily mean good leadership. Your staff may be happy and contented because you don’t ride them too hard, or you’re one of those bosses who likes to be everybody’s friend. This will make for an easygoing atmosphere, but it doesn’t mean you’re a good leader.

The bottom line is, you have goals to accomplish and you need your team to assist you, so how effective a leader you are will come down to how you achieve those goals:

  • By laying down the law and cracking the whip until the task is completed?
  • By doing the lion’s share yourself to make sure it gets done?
  • By motivating your team and achieving the goal together?

Obviously, the third option is the most desirable, because it not only achieves the result, but also creates good team morale. So motivation would seem to be the key and many writings about leadership point to this very thing.

Sir Richard Branson has been quoted as saying “If you can learn to motivate your staff and improve their morale, they will be inspired to return your faith in them with high efficiency and productivity … Shape your enterprise around your people”.

A good leader then is someone who knows how to turn an objective into a reality through the cooperation of others.

So how do you get others to share your vision?

  • The goal you set must be difficult, yet achievable. It should also be something that the team members want to achieve (e.g. record sales for the month, rewarded by a healthy bonus).
  • The vision must be reinforced at every opportunity, in a mission statement and at every meeting, where progress towards the goal should be discussed and analysed.
  • Each team member must be made to feel that they are contributing to the goal, that their individual skills and abilities are being fully utilised and that they have as much responsibility for the outcome as you do. Motivation is about empowerment.

Communication is critical.

Your door must always be open and you must provide every opportunity for feedback, encouraging input and giving and receiving constructive criticism as well as credit where it is due.

To be a good leader, you also have to be a good manager, which, in a nutshell, means you need to know the numbers:

  • how much work there is;
  • how long it will take;
  • how many people are needed; and
  • how productive everyone is.

You also need to lead by example.

You must be the most positive, enthusiastic and productive one of all which often means putting in longer hours than anyone else.

Those you wish to influence will not set their standards any higher than the standards they observe in you.

If your team sees that the goal is achievable, that you are dedicated to achieving it and that you need their full commitment to make it happen, then they are more likely to get behind you and do their best.

Your ability to inspire them and their subsequent achievement of the goal are what determine your calibre as a leader. Good team morale will follow naturally.

And remember, when you’ve got a good team who have bonded through mutual achievement, keep them away from possible outside negative influences, because as someone once said, “Leadership is about keeping those who really respect you away from those who haven’t quite made up their minds”.

Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.


Paul Slezak

Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.

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