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8 Behaviors Successful Leaders Use to Motivate Staff

8 Behaviors Successful Leaders Use to Motivate Staff

What makes a great leader in the workplace? Maybe you will be instinctively drawn to a leader because of their charisma, knowledge, and perseverance. But when you actually break it down, it is quite surprising to learn that great leaders are approachable, open, and great communicators. Here are 8 behaviours that we can all learn from those successful leaders.

1. Create an open and approachable environment

There are some managers and CEOs who place themselves on a pedestal and never really get to know their staff. They are living in a cloud of power and have little touch with reality in the workplace. They are obsessed with authority, prestige, and their position. They are rulers, rather than leaders.

But a real leader creates an open and approachable environment where staff are encouraged to say what they think of procedures, policies, and business objectives. There is a much better atmosphere and staff do not hesitate to approach the leader. The result is that there is a much greater sense of collaboration and a team spirit rather than a hierarchy based on fear, power, and privilege. Brian Tracy, Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International sums it up very neatly:

“Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.”

2. Build confidence when the going gets tough

Leaders are expected to lead. In times of crisis, this can be the greatest test of a successful leader. They know how to mobilize the staff by staying calm and courageous. The open approach will pay handsome dividends here as staff will be fully aware of what the crisis is. They know what they will have to achieve in turning the company around and staying ahead of the game.

Steve Jobs as a business leader did not only turn Apple around after its stocks plummeted in 1996 but released new products such as the iPod and iPhone. It is an inspiring example of how a business leader was able to build confidence during a crisis.

3. Build employees’ self-esteem

Everyone craves praise when it is merited, of course! Leaders give praise and encouragement when it is due. They encourage people to let coworkers know about their achievements such as meeting a tough deadline or exceeding a sales target. Great leaders or managers know what people are striving to achieve and they will be the first to encourage and praise. Todd Mansfield who was vice president of Disney Development Company for 11 years realized that in time, as he explains here.

“When we’d sit down to evaluate associates, we’d spend 20% of our time talking about the things they did well and 80% on what needed to be improved. That is just not effective. We ought to spend and energy helping people determine what they are gifted at doing and then align their responsibilities with those capabilities.”- Todd Mansfield

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4. Empower and enable workers

Great leaders work hard to encourage a culture of inclusion at every level. In practice this means that innovation and skills development are strongly encouraged. One great way to empower employees is to keep them in the loop as to what is really happening at every level of your operations. These might include strategies for every contingency, emergency procedures and on-going skills training. The great advantage here is that this sense of empowerment makes them feel that they are a vital part of the company.

Doug Conant, CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, had to rescue the company from falling sales. His recipe for success was to prioritize employee engagement which had been judged as among the worst by Fortune 500. During his ten year stint in which he managed to turn the company around, employee engagement was consistently rated as among the best.

5. Ask questions and listen

Many managers talk loftily about their company’s mission statement and ethics. They talk about staff development and training. They sometimes fail to set the example by actually doing these things such as encouraging communication by asking questions and letting staff ask them. In fact they often talk far too much and do not listen nearly enough. This is why they rarely relate to others and inspire them. John C.Maxwell, the founder of Maximum Impact and an annual speaker at Fortune 500 companies often mentions this very important aspect of leadership:

“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.”

6. Take risks

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, was recently interviewed on leadership. He said that one of the great ways to be an effective leader is to take risks. He gave an example of how he always goes for personality rather than formal qualifications, when hiring staff. Certainly there is a risk here. He also prefers to promote within the company rather than hiring outsiders. It sends a great message to staff and shows that hard work and dedication are actually rewarded. He is the author of The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership.

7. Be humble and learn from each other

Great leaders will always be on the lookout to learn from their staff and to share wisdom and experience. The leaders who lock themselves in their offices will never be exposed to new ideas. In addition, one of the four critical leadership qualities is humility, according to a Catalyst study which asked 1,500 workers from all around the globe. Humility is learning from criticism and being able to admit you were wrong. Lazlo Bock who is Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google explains what humility means in leadership:

“It is not just humility in creating space for others to contribute, it’s intellectual humility. Without humility, you are unable to learn.”

8. Be passionate about change

Great leaders do not shirk their duty when it comes to making changes which will mean challenges but also great rewards in the long run. If you are passionate about change, you can achieve great success. Indra Nooyi, CEO PepsiCo, is absolutely committed to taking the company in a healthier direction while achieving financial success. She has managed that while implementing a five year plan to cut costs by $5 billion:

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“Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader.”

Featured photo credit: Sir Richard Branson/ Jarle Naustvik via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Freelance writer

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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