I once read a quote along the lines of "A good manager makes you feel that they are important. A good leader makes you feel like you are important." I don't know who said it or if I am quoting it accurately, but it's worth mentioning as it is so important to remember that ego has no room in good leadership. If you're not confident enough to elevate those around you, then maybe leadership is not for you.
Out of all the bosses I have had over the years, the ones I remember are the ones who helped me reach my potential and focused on making me better, not getting me to recognize how great they were.
Here are four easy things to do if you are looking to engage a team and lead them to success:
Make people feel needed.
It's all pretty simple. Nothing feels worse than not being needed, and vice versa, the feeling that you are valuable and that your thoughts and insights are taken seriously feels good and gives you motivation to bring more initiatives to the table.
Of course, a big part of making someone feel needed is communication--telling that person that he or she is, but going beyond that. Listen to your team members' ideas, implement them when relevant, and when not, communicate that the idea was seriously considered but ultimately not implemented because it didn't fit the current strategy or for whatever other reason.
Give people credit for their work and ideas and make them feel needed.
Listen more than you talk.
Too many managers think it is their job to always be talking, instructing, and guiding, and not enough understand the value of listening. As a great leader, make it your business to ask questions, raise issues, and listen to what your team has to say. Remember, without a team to lead, you are not much of a leader.
A good question to always ask your team members is "What are your current challenges?" Everyone has challenges and everyone is more than happy to discuss them. It is less about the actual challenge and more about team members' knowing that you care enough to ask, listen, and hopefully help them overcome their challenge. But even if not, being heard is often all people want.
Ask genuinely for constructive criticism.
Every time I do public speaking anywhere in the world, when I get off the stage, people usually make it their business to come over and compliment me on my talk. I have said this before and I will say it again; That is nice of them, but I consistently respond by saying, "Thanks, I appreciate the feedback, but how about some criticism? How can I be better?"
This accomplishes two things. First, it displays to them that while you might have been super confident on stage, you are just like them and you are humble and relatable. Second, doing this gives you real feedback to be used later to up your game.
In my most recent talk, I asked someone for criticism, and what he told me was super valuable. He said to empty my pockets before talks because my AirPods and car keys were bouncing around during my talk and it distracted the audience. I loved that note and will be clearing out my pockets before talking from now on.
Don't underestimate positive reinforcement.
This is such a crucial point and one that is relevant for all aspects of life. Don't talk to the restaurant staff only when your food is cold or not good. Make it your business to give positive reinforcement too.
If that is the case for restaurants, it is even more important to do when you're talking about your team who is supposed to be performing consistently under your leadership.
Someone does something right, even if it is their job to do so, tell them you appreciate the quick turnaround, and the superb delivery. It doesn't cost you anything to say a nice word to your team members and the next time that person has a task, they'll remember how good it felt to be praised by you last time.
When leading a team, put yourself in the shoes of your team members, and act toward them as you would like others to act toward you.