How do great leaders inspire others to commit themselves to their goals? It’s not just that they have charismatic personalities, or that they give a lot of high-energy motivational talks. What they do is communicate their vision so effectively that other people adopt it as their own.
Inspiring people is what great leaders like former U.S. President John F. Kennedy did best. In the early ’60s, President Kennedy set his sights on putting a man on the moon and told the American people, “We can do it!” He said it with such conviction that people believed it and committed themselves to making it happen. And, sure enough, mankind made it to the moon. That’s the formula for any leader to inspire commitment: Clear goals, a solid plan of action and a strong conviction.
Of course, leadership takes more than inspiration. One of the most insightful tips I learned about leading others is that people do things for their reasons, not for your reasons or for mine. So the goals, the plan of action and the strong conviction have to be communicated in a way that directly answers the question, “What’s in it for me?” People respond to clear opportunities for personal and professional growth. So back up your promises with action.
But how can you move past the empty rhetoric and translate your vision into concrete actions your people can identify with and get excited about? Let me suggest 7 proven techniques for building a solid and committed team:
1. Recognize outstanding performance.
Everyone likes to look good in the presence of their peers. Give your team a public pat on the back and if they do really well, throw in a tangible benefit. It will boost the whole team’s mood and productivity.
2. Constantly ask for input and ideas.
People are usually much more enthusiastic about supporting decisions and plans they helped create. So get ideas and input from any person whose job will be affected by any upcoming decision. When your team quits talking about the company, and starts talking about our company, you know you’ve got a team.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have one or two people who can plow into almost anything and do well. But most people need initial and ongoing training.
4. Play the role of coach and mentor.
Encourage people to keep growing and taking on new challenges. Deal with mistakes and problems quickly, and then move on.
5. Just be a nice person.
Make people feel valued and important by treating them with dignity and respect.
6. Build an environment of growth.
Provide plenty of opportunities for people to grow, both personally and professionally.
7. Perform regular maintenance.
Weed out the bad apples before they spoil the whole team. It takes a lot of patience and effort to build a solid team of people who will share and help you fulfill your vision, but the results will be well worth all you put into it.
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