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I once conducted my own unofficial survey of colleagues, associates, and clients to find out what they value in a boss that would inspire, motivate, and make them more likely to follow a leader. In all the responses I garnered, no one mentioned words frequently associated with leadership, such as smart, visionary, or powerful. The two words that repeatedly showed up in people’s responses were communication and respect.
Leaders need to make people feel that their contributions are important, because they are. That’s not to suggest that we have to run around the office hugging people to show our appreciation, but there are ways to embrace people by how we communicate.
Treat everyone the same. When you make people feel equal, they are motivated to contribute and to respect everyone’s opinions and differences.
Be clear. If you are going to provide feedback, be specific so that people understand your expectations, what they need to work on, and if there are certain things you want them to do.
Let them hear it from you. Talk to people, not about them. If you have a problem with someone or want someone to do something differently, let them hear it from you so as to avoid second-guessing and misinterpretation.
Teach, don’t tell. Think about mentors you’ve had in your life. They led by showing and helping, not by intimidating people.
Admit mistakes. It’s natural to make corrections and point out mistakes, but don’t be afraid to admit your own errors as well. It makes you human.
Be approachable. Don’t forget where you came from and what it was like when you were getting started. Be real and approachable to motivate others.
Advancing your own agenda requires open, honest, and frequent communication that empowers others to succeed. This means encouraging two-way conversation at all levels.
Karen Friedman Enterprises
Blue Bell, Pa.
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