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Different leaders have different leadership styles but all of them need to learn how to deal with human nature. This is not such an easy task considering the diversity of human nature.
Great leaders have the ability to understand and work with different attitudes and personalities. To be an effective leader, one must develop fine social skills in order to relate to different kinds of people.
The people skills are crucial in empowering people, which is a primary task in leadership.
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The first one, empathy, is crucial in establishing open communication lines among people in an organization.
The second one, motivation, is important getting a team to be productive.
1. EmpathyA good leader must learn how to empathize with the people he or she will work with. Empathy is a person’s ability to show concern and understanding of other people’s perspectives.
Empathy should not be confused with sympathy. When you are sympathetic with others, you identify with them to the point of agreeing with the person’s actions and plans. Empathy is not agreeing with a person. Empathy is being able to put yourself in another person’s position and understand their thoughts and feelings.
Empathy does not mean agreeing with the person all the time. Empathy only entails understanding one person’s point of view, even without giving advice.
An effective leader needs to exhibit empathy towards other people. It is crucial in building trust and strengthening relationships among people.
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Productivity increases when the people working together share a healthy relationship. Empathy allows leaders to dig deep into the root cause of poor performance without being judgmental.
By putting themselves in the shoes of other people, they can make better changes in people’s lives.
Empathy plays a huge role in empowering people. You don’t have to agree with each and every viewpoint but as a leader, you have to let the people around you realize that you understand them and know where they are coming from.
When reaching out to people, don’t let your thoughts be clouded by judgments right away.
Showing empathy takes time because it is not always easy understanding why people think and feel the way they do. By creating an environment where people feel that they can be comfortable expressing their opinions and thoughts, you can open yourself to empathic listening.
When talking to people, assure the speaker that he or she has your undivided attention. When people are about to confide their problems, they feel more comfortable when they are assured of full attention.
Listen to the speaker with an open mind and heart.
Resist the temptation to pass judgment.
This can be difficult at first because biases are almost unavoidable but the awareness that you have your own set of biases should help you keep yourself from making judgments right away.
Avoid interrupting the speaker at all times, even if you feel strongly about something.
Don’t be afraid of moments of silence.
After the speaker has aired his or her thoughts, a short pause would allow him or her to make sense of the situation and come up with his or her own solution.
While the speaker is talking, don’t just listen to the words that come out of the mouth. Make sense of the emotions attached to those words. More than the words, you should be able to respond to the speaker’s emotions.
Ask relevant and sensible questions to assure the speaker that you are interested and that you want to understand him or her.
Oftentimes, the speaker will feel more at ease just by the mere effort and gesture.
2. MotivationGood leadership certainly entails superior motivational skills. Part of empowering people is to be able to motivate them and get them moving.
As a leader, it is important to know what motivates the people around you. Needless to say, motivation goes hand in hand with empathy.
Each person has different aspiration, dreams, and interests. A good leader needs to tap into these in order to get each member of the group moving. People work for many reasons – income, self-fulfillment, growth, etc.
The leader must make an effort to talk to the members of his team individually to get to know each person’s source or sources of motivation.
The common misconception of most leaders is that all members of the team are motivated by the same factors. Some members can possibly share the same aspirations but it does not always apply to everyone.
Motivation can be very personal, making it difficult for inexperienced leaders to motivate each and every member of the team. When it comes to motivation, there is no such thing as “one size fits all”.
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There are external factors that motivate a person but these factors also have to be harmonized with the internal motivational factors. In an office organization, the most common motivation would be salary but good leaders know that something more profound than money motivates people.
Why are people looking forward to earning money?
Do they have a family to support?
Are they saving up to go to school?
These motivations are something that a leader can explore when they dialogue personally with the members of their team.
People are motivated when they establish very personal goals, aside from the goal that should be achieved in the organization.
Human beings are not static. They thrive in constant challenges and stimulation. People should be given tasks that increasingly get difficult but stay attainable. Their tasks should make them feel proud of themselves for having conquered challenges, whether they are small or big.
Their tasks should be challenging but possible.
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Make sure to give them constant feedback on their performance to give them a sense of fulfilment and a glimpse of their performance. One of the easiest sources of motivation is praise and recognition.
People are more energized to work when their achievements and efforts are given due recognition. However, be careful with recognition.
Acknowledge the achievements of one person but don’t do it in such a way that will spark envy and unhealthy competition among colleagues.
In relation to challenges, another source of motivation for many people is a task that quenches their thirst for knowledge. People need to be exposed to an environment where their curiosity is satisfied.
Make their working environment more interesting to arouse curiosity and encourage learning as well.
A leader needs to constantly figure out what motivates the members of the team, as a group and as individuals. Good leaders don’t just bluntly ask their members what motivates them because not all people realize them right away. Rather, good leaders should explore each individual values.
This gives you a more personal glimpse into their lives, which will make it easier to dig into to what motivates them.
Allow each member of the team to set his or her own goals, only reminding them once in a while to design their goals according to the collective goal of the organization.
This will give them a sense of control over their lives, which is a highly motivational factor for many people. Allowing them to set their own goals will give them a closer look at how their actions will affect their own goals.
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You can also use group work or teamwork as motivational factors. These are effective for people who like to work in groups.
This will enhance cooperation and relationships in the team. Also, people are more likely to be motivated when they know that their own actions will affect the welfare of other people.
Cooperation will get more things done and strengthen relationships among members.
Good leaders also know how to facilitate a competitive environment to motivate people. This tactic is used in almost any kind of organization. A healthy competition will arouse the productivity of people because winning a competition gives a person a sense of accomplishment.
Effective leaders will learn how to use competition to motivate all the members of the team. As much as possible, leaders should encourage each member to compete against their own performance (even if they are competing with other people).
Leaders should also ensure that the competition is worth joining even at the face of defeat.
Leaders should be careful not to engage their team in a power struggle where each member becomes manipulative of others just to win a competition.
As mentioned earlier, different people have different motivations. Therefore, you have to cultivate a personal relationship with each employee in order to test different factors that might motivate them.
For instance, some people are motivated by competition while others do not work well under pressure. It could be a hit-or-miss process but eventually, you will find each person’s motivation.
Keep lines of communication open so that you know how each individual responds to motivational factors. Get feedback regularly and see the members of your team are motivated.
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It’s also important to monitor your members to check if they are exhibiting signs of de-motivation.
Clear the office space of any de-motivational factors as much as possible. Keep a healthy relationship between you and your members. You should also make sure that the members sustain harmonious relationships with each other.
People are more productive when they have a good relationship with their leaders and their colleagues. Finally, ensure that the collective and individual goals are met.
In conclusion, leadership and empowering people is all about understanding their deepest desires and helping them set goals that are also aligned with the organization’s collective goal.
It is very important for a leader to assure their members that they belong to an organization where even their personal goals and aspirations are highly valued.
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