The measure of a great leader is not how high up the ladder someone goes by stepping on others. A great leader lifts everyone around them up, and like a buoy on a rising tide, the leader rises with his or her followers. It may seem backwards, but if you want to be a successful leader, learn how to bring out the best in the people around you and help them thrive and achieve their best.
How do you get others to achieve? It’s a well-known principle that you can’t change another person; you can only change yourself. But if you are responsible for leading a family or a team, there are effective ways you can influence the way people respond to you.
I saw a sign in an office that read “The floggings will continue until morale improves.” The irony makes us laugh because it’s so obvious that it won’t work. You can’t get positive responses from people with negative strategies. Your teenager won’t wipe a scowl off his face if you yell at him to smile. Your spouse won’t respond if you criticize and demand more affection. And your co-workers, team members or employees won’t offer loyalty, assistance or cooperation if you threaten them.
What does work is consistently communicating positive messages – words of encouragement and affirmation that tell your teen that he’s valuable to you, gestures of affection that let your spouse know that you care, or an attitude of unity and teamwork that tells your co-workers that cooperation is a two-way street. Simply acting in a positive and encouraging way toward another person will make a big difference in the way they respond to you.
One of the key responsibilities of a leader is to provide guidance, correction and even discipline to the people they lead. The way they handle mistakes or misbehavior is critical to the success of everyone concerned. Some leaders discourage others by harshly criticizing performance – or even the person – but this will not encourage growth and success. Great leaders see things that go wrong as an opportunity to teach and train their child or employee. They express confidence in the person’s ability, reinforce a belief in their value and often encourage others by coming alongside and setting the example. While mistakes must be addressed, there is a significant difference between, “You messed up and you better fix it or else,” and “Let’s figure out how to fix this so it doesn’t happen again.”
To bring out the best in others, remember that you reap what you sow. Choose today to sow seeds of encouragement and respect and you will reap a harvest of cooperation and positive attitudes. When leaders and their families and teams work together in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect, everyone rises to a greater level of success and satisfaction in their life, relationships and work.
Live, Work and Relate Well!
Dr. Todd is a licensed psychologist, executive coach, published author, and national conference and seminar speaker. He has been a featured expert on national and local radio talk shows and television news programs.