Leading people who are not “in it to win it” sucks! You just can’t get them to fulfill their duties effectively and efficiently. And you feel as though you have to take extreme measures to motivate them to act.
That definitely sucks. But what if it’s actually a leadership problem?
Now, before you stop reading, let me present my case.
You see, highly effective teams and organizations have, well, effective leaders. And I’m sure you already know that leadership is more than just ordering people around.
So what do effective leaders do that others don’t?
1. Know What Others Think or Feel Before They Do
No, not mind reading. I’m talking about empathy.
Effective leaders know their members better than their members know themselves. They understand other people’s thoughts and feelings, and they think and feel with them without judgement.
Empathy, not sympathy, helps effective leaders establish trust and rapport with their members with ease.
2. Show Moments of Vulnerability
Speaking of trust and rapport, effective leaders allow themselves to be vulnerable. They don’t go to great lengths to conceal their deficiencies and weaknesses.
They let go of the misconception that they have to show strength at all times, as this only pushes them away from others.
Effective leaders are not afraid to tell their team that they’re unsure about something, or if they don’t know the solution to a problem.
To them, letting their guard down is not a sign of weakness.
3. Practice What They Preach, Without Preaching
Effective leaders know it’s a waste of time to enforce an action or behavior from their members: they know it will fall on deaf ears.
And even if others follow through on things they enforce, it’s usually momentary.
Instead, they focus on being an example. They consistently act how they want their members to act, and interestingly, they don’t preach. They let their actions do the preaching.
As the saying goes, “Action speaks louder than words.”
4. Use Purpose and Vision to Drive the Organization
Effective leaders ensure that everyone from the bottom-up is always on the same page.
This is particularly important in a large organization, as the more members there are, the easier it is for the organization’s purpose and vision to become diluted.
Many businesses crumble because the members who comprise it are not clear on their purpose or vision. And some members don’t even know, or might have forgotten.
5. Speak Last
Effective leaders not only listen attentively to others, they also value other people’s thoughts, opinions, and ideas as much as their own.
They welcome new, and even opposing perspectives, if it moves the whole organization forward.
Effective leaders know that speaking first influences, and often limits, the input they receive from others. So, they encourage others to openly share their thoughts and ideas first before they pitch in theirs.
6. Take the Blame
Taking the blame is simply taking responsibility for mistakes, not martyrdom. When something goes wrong, effective leaders are quick to ask, “What could I have done better that would have prevented this from happening?”
Maybe they let something slip through the cracks; the instructions they provided were ambiguous, they didn’t provide timely feedback, or they missed to follow up.
Whatever the reason, they don’t hunt down people to blame because they know that is not a productive use of their time.
Instead, they focus on how they can do better next time.
7. Quit Strategically
Pushing a project through despite obvious signs that it will never work or scale can result in unnecessary loss of resources, and effective leaders prevent these losses by knowing when to quit.
For them, quitting strategically is as important as persistence, and they understand that a sunk cost is a lost cause.
8. Ask Great Questions
Good leaders simply seek solutions to problems as they arise, but effective leaders focus on asking great questions.
The latter knows that great solutions naturally spurt from asking the right questions.
9. Emphasize Action
Planning is a deceptively productive activity. When we plan, we think we are moving things forward, but really we’re not. What moves things forward is execution, and this is what effective leaders are great at.
Planning is important, yes, but it’s really just educated guessing. So, avoid planning to a tee as you won’t be able to predict everything. You just can’t.
Also, be careful of using “planning” as an excuse to hold off on taking action. Just outline the bare essentials, get moving, and course-correct along the way.
10. Encourage Brutal Feedback
For effective leaders, feedback is everything, and they rely on it heavily for both their personal and professional development.
They’ve developed enough trust with their members that they can be confident they receive raw, unfiltered feedback from them.
They also encourage their members to call them out, if appropriate.
11. Get Down to Business But Eschew Busyness
Effective leaders know well that busy is not productive. For them, busy is just busy.
They believe that productivity is not about doing many things, but rather is about doing the most important things. Effective leaders don’t waste their time chasing shiny, new ideas and tools, and focus on one thing at a time.
12. Embrace Humility Powerfully and Exude Power Humbly
Effective leaders are not power trippers. For them, leadership is not about the status, praise, or recognition.
While they maintain some degree of authority, they still treat themselves as equal to their members.
This helps effective leaders earn the respect of others without imposing it.
13. Break the Rules
In any organization, there are rules. Rules are created for order, and for an organization to function harmoniously, the members must follow them.
However, when the need for it arises, effective leaders know when to bend or break the rules.
To clarify, leaders do this not for their own benefit or convenience, but rather to protect their members.
A good example is allowing members to transfer some of their allotted vacation days to another member who needs more time to take care of a sick family member.
Putting it All Together
Effective leaders put others first.
They inspire, motivate and coach others towards the achievement of a vision that is beyond themselves.
Internalize the points above, improve one relevant point at a time, and start celebrating small wins.
Do these and you’ll be well on your way to effective leadership!
What Do Effective Leaders Do Differently?
If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
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