Leaders become great leaders because they have mastered the ability to bring out the best in the people who follow them. Some do it naturally, but others in leadership positions have built this skill through years of experience. They also have taken cues from the high-achieving leaders that have come before them.
Those who study leadership academically have identified specific methods that nurture high performance and strong motivation among followers. Here are just a few:
Keen Appraisal Skills
Leaders should be good at appraising the level of the abilities of an employee or other subordinate. This avoids the mistake of giving someone a level of responsibility they can’t handle and sets them up for failure. The flip side is not giving someone enough responsibility. This will make them feel bored or can even demoralize them because they sense being slighted or undervalued. As a leader, develop an eye for giving people the best job to match their skills and talents.
Lead by Example
It’s tough to ask people to work hard and long hours if you don’t do the same. Among the best way to produce a specific behavior is to model that behavior yourself. Be the opposite of a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do kind of boss.
Feedback Done Right
With leadership comes the necessity of providing feedback. Certainly, everyone wants positive feedback all the time – but they don’t always deserve it. That means a leader must develop a deft hand at giving praise when praise is due and delivering constructive criticism when course corrections are required. It’s not about blame; it’s about a frank discussion of how things can get done better.
Praise in Public
The worst thing a leader can do is humiliate a subordinate by criticizing them before their peers. But doing just the opposite – praising them in front of their peers – can make them feel on top of the world. It also motivates them even more and solidifies their sense that they have a great boss or leader. It’s always best to consider the individual employee’s preferences for such praise since not every employee will appreciate public attention – even if it is positive.
Give Them Space
Voluminous studies show that micro-managing is not an effective way to run a company – or an army, a church congregation, or a school system. That means that once people have direction from the top about what they need to do — and are well trained to do just that -– get out of their way and trust them to bring in their best performance.