Being a leader is not only about running the business, leading the company or team to reach the goals, it is about being a people manager and making sure that every team member is enabling their skills in the best possible way. It is not done by being forceful or pushy.
The best leaders know that people are individuals, real people that needs encouragement and follow-up. By being a leader who understands that employees are much more motivated by praise than criticism, and much more likely to do their best work when they are trusted, than when they are scared.
I once spoke with a senior account manger at a large international company who for most of his career had had leaders who led with fear. Making sure that the employees was afraid of them seemed to bet their highest priority. The account manager told me that this fear culture had led to everybody in the team being afraid and dreaded every 1 to 1 meeting with their manager. The leader did everything in his power to make employees fear him to create a culture where employees knew they needed to meet their goals, otherwise they would be backstabbed, ridiculed, and bullied.
Many employees in that company actually thought it was the way it should be. Many leaders believe that this is the way it is supposed to be. They think leadership is about power and force.
It was not until this particular leader moved on to another company, and the team got a new leader, they realized what it was really going to be like.
On the first 1 to 1 meeting the new leader asked: “How are you? What is going on with your clients? Do you need any help? What can I do to help you?”
The new leader also asked about the employees’ weekend; if he had had a good week and how his family was doing.
The account manager told me: "I had never even heard those word from a leader before, and from that day, I started looking forward to the 1 to 1 meeting with my leader. And I started to perform better. I became a better employee because I was treated with kindness and respect. I felt that my manager actually cared about me, not just the job I was doing. Now I think of my job in a whole other way and I perform better than I have ever done at work. At the same time my personal life has improved. I don’t think I realize how much my work situation and my bully boss had affected my life".
Leaders need to understand that employees are also human beings; they have a life outside work, they need to be seen, they have to feel that their work matters. By showing your employees that you care about them, you are creating a positive and safe environment.
To get the results you need and want from your employees – being caring and respectful is what works best.
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