Frightened LeaderPicture this lack of leadership scene:

Several years ago, while working in a sales-intense, customer facing environment, a steady mid-week jaunt was suddenly and violently interrupted when a manager came bursting through the door with the exasperated look of a frightened elk.

He informed his team, through a stuttering, panicked, barely audible frustration, that the regional manager was in the area for the next few days and this store was a prime target for his ruthless inspection.


Immediately they set about getting everything in order; informing the rest of the team not only of the seriousness of the operation, but also of the opportunity it presented. They got that store in ship-shape condition.

Managers worked tirelessly to ready graphs and figures to present their information and show exactly what they could do, and not a single customer was missed. They were ready to prove how good their store could be, and in the end, that was probably the most motivated team ever seen in the often-questionable company.

Little Hope

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite like they thought it might. The big boss strode in with a gloopy air of irritated viscosity, like he had to wade through the tarmac beneath his feet. There was little hope from there.

He greeted a team of enthusiastic, engaged employees all eager to show off their accomplishments and the achievements they had made. Regrettably, he didn’t seem to notice; at each stage of his tour of the store, he could only highlight what was missing, what hadn’t been done, and asked why there wasn’t any more. He complained, frowned, shook his head and left.

The difference in the team was visible immediately. They felt like they had worked for nothing; utterly disengaged and demotivated, the polar opposite of their work ethic before the visit.

5_Keys_to Leadership_Skills

5 Keys to Motivation

We have to remember that creating invested, engaged employees isn’t something that can be done once and then forgotten; it’s a constant. If you’re not winning over ‘hearts and minds’ all you’re creating is potential loses.

So, what five things can we take away from this catastrophic management blunder?

  • Respect. It doesn’t cost anything. And, at any level, is always a two way street. If you don’t show employees respect, talk down to them, or assume they’re not working hard, you’ll lose any respect they might have for you, severing the relationship right from the start.
  • Conversation. Communication is important in every aspect of business and even more so when you’re leading a team of people. Talk to your employees on a personal level, listen to what they have to say, and reply with relationship building in mind.
  • Gratitude. Actually being appreciative for employee efforts and acknowledging successes will keep your people wanting to do well. Celebrating achievement is always important and if you can bring a team together with your praise, you’ll strengthen their bond and build motivation tenfold.
  • Development. This is the manner in which you should address issues, and highlight areas where individuals might make headway. Develop their ideas and your own. Identify what needs to be worked on, keep it positive and always focus on the next step. What we’ve achieved so far is great and this is where we could be if we do this…
  • Reminder. As an leader it’s easy to become lost in paperwork and logistics. A lot of the time employees don’t get to see the bigger picture like you might. Communicate that the work they do is important and every success is a company wide success that they should be proud of. Most of all, let employees know they’re making a real difference.
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Leadership Skills TakeawayConduct a meeting with these five steps in mind, and in no time you’ll have the most motivated, fired-up team ready to do anything for you, the company, and for success.

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Sean McPheat
Sean helps companies improve their sales, management and HR teams through consulting, coaching and training. Sean is Managing Director of the MTD Training group and you can follow Sean online here for more tips and advice on how to boost your business.