Leaders are responsible for their team’s performance. This means that leaders must be convinced that the direction of their team fits with the organization’s strategic plan. Although it is useful to have creative sessions with team members to bat around ideas, the overarching goals that the team must fulfill are most often set by the leader, or some authority above the leader as part of the strategic planning process.

The challenge for every leader is to get the team “onside” with the given aims, even when some team members may wholeheartedly disagree with them, or baulk at the idea that these have been imposed on them from above. It’s wise to bear in mind that hierarchical or position power does nothing to engender employee engagement. Despite the accepted hierarchy of any workplace, for a team to work most efficiently, its members – especially higher level ones – may want to feel they are contributing more than just spade work; they may feel that they should have a say in the decisions that are made.

This presents a challenge for the leader who cannot just let his or her subordinates have free reign. To be successful, the team must be made to feel involved and motivated. The answer is by empowering your team, as far as possible. By definition, that means giving the people on your team the power or authority to complete the tasks you have delegated to them. We’re not suggesting that you should hand over the reins, head home and put your feet up though.

The motivational leader must be able to actively involve the team in the process and ensure that they contribute to the overall outcome of the project. Learning how to make your suggestions appeal to them will increase the chances of buy-in dramatically. One way to do that is to appeal to their behavioral drives and motivators. Our clients rely on the McQuaig behavioral assessment for this information.

Another great way gain commitment is to solicit opinions from the team and take the best ideas on board. This is a great way to improve employee engagement and commitment. You may have to convince them that your goals are shared and that their futures are tied to the team’s overall success (as is yours by the way). It may be a simple matter of getting an employee to understand that their job will be safer if they perform well; reminding them that they are working for themselves and their family, and not just for a company.

However, empowering others does not just mean employing tactics that persuade other people to your own opinion or goals. People begin to see through that very quickly. It does mean demonstrating leadership qualities that inspire others to act at their very best, no matter what is asked of them. That is born in an environment of trust and respect, fueled by accountability and driven by giving the people the people on your team the power or authority to complete the tasks you have delegated to them.

Sometimes, it is just a matter of being an admirable and inspirational human being. Of course, some may be born with more of these qualities than others, but we can all strive to lead by example, so that others will feel empowered to make great things happen. We’re convinced that great leaders are made, not born. As my partner Tony Scutella (Shifting Mindsets) and I have said before, following a solid leadership development plan that is based on self-awareness is the starting point. Understanding, appreciating and engaging the individual strengths of the people that report will take you a long way 


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