For over 25 years I’ve had the good fortune to be a leader of people in business.
From a first time manager to a C-level executive. I’ve worked with teams of one (is that a team?) to many hundred. In different industries, counties, and cultures. Disrupters and the disrupted.
And over that time I feel I’ve attended a thousand leadership seminars and read even more books…some telling me to turn left, others right, many straight head. To lead from the front, from below, or from a distance.
With so much information it would be easy to believe that leadership is some mystic art form requiring decades of unpicking, unpacking, and unravelling. And although there are many subtleties and much to be learned about how best to tackle this never constant space, at its core it actually starts with one basic step. In order best understand how to lead others, you firstly need to understand what drives and motivates you.
What make you work harder, deliver more, and go beyond the boundaries of normal expectation? What do you look for, and what do you avoid, in those that lead you? What do drives your satisfaction, engagement, and passion? Because irrespective of whether you’re a CEO, a line manager, or new to the work force, personal motivation has much in common. And a leader’s role is to maximise that motivation.
We all want to be valued, appreciated and recognised. We all thrive on being engaged, consulted, and having a voice. We all perform best when trusted and enabled. We all want to be able to make a difference. So as a leader of people, why would we feel that those we lead have motivations that are particularly different to our own?
These are not the characteristics and drivers of a certain level of employee or manager, they are fundamental human desires surrounding any significant relationship; including those amongst colleagues and staff.
Certainly, the importance of one element compared to another might vary, with some for example preferring greater financial recognition over open praise, or some preferring the opportunity to voice their opinion quietly rather than openly in meetings...but the underlying principles are the same.
This thinking of course would typically simply be a message around empathy; those more naturally inclined to be empathetic are more likely to recognise the above-mentioned. And certainly that’s true. But empathy is often as much about common sense as anything else.
Understand what drives you then create that environment for those you lead.
You’ll be amazed how simple that can be and how quickly those around you will gravitate to that environment.
There’s plenty more to great leaders and leadership but a taking this common sense approach will create a foundation on which to build.