We live in a culture that is shifting by the minute. The kind of leader baby boomers aspired to be is different from the kind of leader Millennials and Generation X set their sights on.
The shift in leadership style has largely been a result of the shifting marketplace and what is required of companies to be competitive. Twenty years ago, it was all about command and control--being decisive and authoritative. The leader of the past was expected to have all the answers and tell their employees what to do. Employees must follow the rules, do what they were told, and pay their dues until they were promoted to a position of authority.
In this era, joy at work was a pipe dream. You were told that if you kept your eyes on the prize--power and authority--then you would be "successful." But what does that mean? In this model, no one is happy and thriving. Command and control creates an environment in which employees are starved of autonomy and then get drunk on power once they get to the top of the ladder. Everything is out of balance, and the company suffers.
But now command and control is making way for a more collaborative way of leading. The market is demanding innovation at such a rapid rate that endless ideas are needed in order to compete. These endless ideas cannot only come from a leader, but must come from everyone else involved.
Therefore, the essence of leadership is shifting from telling everyone what to do, to empowering others to come up with the best and brightest ideas that have never been thought of before. How then do you empower people to be their best?
Here are six powerful ways you can begin to have business success by helping your team be their best:
- Ask them what their vision is for their career or job.
Most people don't know what their vision is for their career or job. The importance of a vision is that it can guide you in moments of change or in project prioritization. Having your people know the direction they want to steer themselves not only improves efficiency but is also an easy way to ensure they are learning to motivate themselves.
- Help them uncover their Zone of Genius.
Your Zone of Genius is the intersection of your innate brainpower and your purpose. Your brainpower is how your brain innately likes to problem solve and process information. Your purpose is linked to what creates fulfillment for you and is connected to your psychology. Figure out your greatest life challenge--the one thing that you always rise to the occasion to help others with. That is your Zone of Genius. Then you have the recipe for endless motivation when you want it.
- Live the behaviors that you want them to embrace.
Telling other adults what to do isn't an effective motivation strategy. When was the last time being told what to do made you feel inspired and ready to make serious change? Probably never, because this is the worst way to get humans to change. You know what is highly effective? Demonstrating the behaviors, actions, and values you desire to see in others. However, this requires commitment and discipline from you, the leader. You have to be the person you want your team to be.
- Give your team the autonomy to do it on their own.
Don't micromanage--another motivation killer. Give people space. I have interviewed countless CEOs that have moved to a Results Only Work Environment. All CEOs reported increased motivation and loyalty. Give your people more freedom than you feel comfortable with--what seems like the scariest thing to do sometimes is the most powerful. Your team will return with results you can't even imagine.
- Hold back from giving your team the answers. Rather, state the problem and let them come up with the solution.
This is about managing yourself. We often do things unconsciously and then question why we aren't getting the results we want. Observe yourself more closely when it comes to what you say to your team or others. Are you holding back from telling them what to do? You should, but this isn't easy. We live in a power hungry society and it's easier to flex our power muscle, tell others what to do and use it as an opportunity to stroke our own egos. This does not, however, empower others to be their best.
- Be a giver.
In his book Give and Take, Adam Grant notes that most successful people give to others without thinking about getting anything in return. When you want to empower others, give to them. Be generous, and they will feel connected to you, appreciated by you, and inspired to do the same.