If you want more out of who you lead, you must give more.

As if being a leader wasn’t difficult enough already, in today’s world it’s like pulling teeth to get those you lead to take action.  Am I wrong?  Even if you provide simple instructions, it’s often a struggle to get the desired result.  Tell me that getting your followers to take initiative and action isn’t one of your biggest struggles.  I’ll wait… How about getting them to perform the work required to your standard?  Is that any easier?

No, probably not.  Two weeks ago I shared with you a post about why “do as I say” leadership doesn’t work.  This week, I’m going to dive in and explain how to transform the level of engagement, quality of work and effort you receive from those you lead.

Let me start by asking you a rather simple question.  For you as the leader, why is it so important that quality standards are met or that the work is done on time?  Well, if it doesn’t get done correctly or on time, who gets blamed?  You.  Even if it was the responsibility of your followers to execute the tasks and perform jobs correctly, the team failure will always fall on your shoulders as the leader, not your followers.  This was true in my time in the military and it is even more true in the civilian world.

Here’s the part most leaders struggle with..

Expecting results and providing instructions isn’t enough.  That may produce the minimum results necessary but for only so long.  If you want the people you lead to take initiative, to take pride in their work, work hard and produce the results above and beyond the status quo, it’s time to change our approach.  They need to share in the ownership of the outcome.

Now here’s the part most “leaders” don’t like to hear….

If you want more from those you lead you must give them more.You heard me right.  Even if those you lead are meeting your expectations, it’s time for you the invest even more in them.  If you want them to participate more then give them ownership in the outcome.  Give them the incentive to succeed by knowing they will share in the success of the team when it happens.  And if the team fails, show them the results of that failure and how it makes life harder down the road.  People need to make their own choices and see the rewards/ consequences of those choices.  But most importantly, when the team succeeds, PUT THAT ON BLAST.  Make sure the whole world knows it.  Celebrate. Buy them lunch.  Share the profits.  Pat them on the back.  Be there biggest cheerleader.  Even the smallest successes should be broadcasted and celebrated.

One of the quickest ways to destroy your followers motivation to do better is for leaders to be quick to recognize failures but slow to recognize and congratulate their success.

A few weeks ago, I shared this concept with a friend of mine who’s pretty high up in her organizations leadership chain.  She said, “Why would I congratulate people for doing their job?  That’s what I pay them for”.  Wrong!  Yes, you pay them to do their job, but you congratulate them to ensure they never forgot how much their work is appreciated.

When people feel appreciated, they stick around.  When people stick around, they produce results.  When they produce results, your life as the leader is easier.  And when your life as the leaders get easier, share the success with those who helped you along the way.

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