Leadership Focus

Leadership is based on two things:

  1. Understanding the motivation of the people who work for you, and
  2. Being able to get them to work towards your vision of where the business is going.

You need to look at what motivates people to give their best in the workplace. Without an understanding of this you may set up the wrong structures and simply be adding challenges to getting your team headed in the right direction.

In recent times there has been a move away from the ‘command and control’ style of leadership, where a leader basically imposes his or her will from the top down. These days, effective leadership generally involves giving teams and individuals a degree of autonomy and letting them find ways to work in the most efficient way possible. According to current thinking, you guide and motivate people by giving them frequent and informal rewards and encouragement. Rather than focusing on ways to impose discipline, leaders now focus on trying to ‘catch somebody doing something right’ so that they can reward them and reinforce a particular kind of behaviour.

This change has come about partly as the results from studies about what people really want out of a job. These studies typically approach this by getting employees to rank a number of items they think motivate their team, and then getting the team to rank them. Most commonly, the rankings are widely different.

Employees’ Rank Item Employer’s Rank
1 Interesting work 5
2 Appreciation and recognition 8
3 Feeling “in on things” 10
4 Job security 2
5 Good wages 1
6 Promotion/growth 3
7 Good working conditions 4
8 Personal loyalty 6
9 Tactful discipline 7
10 Sympathetic help with problems 9

From: Niebrugge, Vicki, Declining Employee Morale: Defining the Causes and Finding the Cure, NOVA Group

Note the things that are real motivators for employees. These are the things that you, as leader, need to keep in mind in building your HR policies.

So if the ‘leader’ is not out there looking for people who are doing things ‘wrong’ and directing them to do it ‘right’ what are they doing? Well, what they ought to be doing, what a leader’s primary purpose is, is to provide an overall sense of vision about where the company is going, and ensure that this vision informs all decisions on strategic and management issues.

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Materials Courtesy of RANONE