Don’t Dream of Being a Great Leader – Be a Good One Instead


It’s not necessary to become a great leader. Those people are very few in number, and it usually takes a huge crisis for their leadership capabilities to emerge. But a great goal for every manager is to become a good leader.

Management is achieving results through other people. You are judged by how much your team accomplishes. Leadership, however, is the ability to make your people want to do what you want them to do. See the difference? Here are some steps you can take to help people want what you want.

Develop the Habit of Listening to People

This is the most drastic measure you can take towards becoming a good leader, a person that people naturally want to follow. And it goes against our sales nature, too, because we want to accomplish things by talking.

Try this and see how difficult it can be to really listen to people. For 30 days try to listen to everybody who talks to you. Everybody. Everywhere. That means to not think about what you are going to say while they are still talking. Don’t offer advice unless they request it. Don’t try to fix anything. Just get into the habit of listening. Pay attention.

It will be awkward, very awkward, to do people the honor of actually listening to them. After 30 days, though, you will say that people seem much more cooperative with you, and that you don’t know why.

Recognize that Incentives Don’t Motivate People

Commission plans, bonuses, spiffs and the like are poor substitutes for leadership. If those things motivated people, then the automotive industry would be a shining example of employee enthusiasm, of great morale and high job satisfaction, of longevity on the job and of low employee turnover.

Learn What Truly Motivates People

Do a little reading on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Motivations. He said that people are born with innate motivations that drive them for life. As a good leader, you want to recognize those drives in your people and then fan them to life, and not extinguish them.

Maslow found that all people have three strong motivations: to survive physically, then to feel a sense of community, and ultimately to feel like they are important. Given that, everybody you hire wants to earn enough money to provide well for their family, to be a cooperative, energetic employee who is a valuable part of your business, and to achieve all they can at work.

What stops them from doing all that? Things in the workplace demotivate people and squash their inner drives. It’s a good idea to read up on how that works. Not to spoil your learning fun, but here is one big hint: constantly comparing your employees to each other, and constantly ranking them from the best to the worst, is a real motivation killer. It has the same effect as when parents compare their children to each other.

Constantly Learn About Your People

While you practice listening for 30 days, can you learn one new thing every week about each of your staff members? After one month of you showing interest in them, see if they are responding better to you.