I hear a lot of language about how leaders "drive performance." Driving, as you know, is a popular word in business. Yet over the years, work cultures have changed. "Driving" no longer holds a favorable place.
If you think about it, we drive cattle, cars and trucks; they have no say because "we're in charge." We push them through, steer them where we want them to go, but that's the opposite of what a great leader does or is.
If you want loyal followers, stop driving. Then make it your No.1 priority to develop a culture of trust. This is how you do it.
1. Communicate a vision of the future.
Even more important than a visionary is a leader who reflects the visions and aspirations of his or her tribe. This leader learns to communicate an image of the future that draws the tribe in--that speaks to what people see and feel, why they are doing the work, and how their work contributes to the bigger picture. But you don't drive the vision forcefully. You encourage them to contribute their ideas, their insights and their realities.
2. Share leadership and release control.
If you want to foster high trust, high risk-taking, high creativity and open communication, and you're still riding on your autocratic high-horse, consider getting off for the higher road of sharing your power and releasing control. Because when you do, you actually gain real power by pumping fear out of the room; your team will have your back, unleash discretionary effort and do amazing work.
3. Share status by making others better.
Great leaders enable their people by sharing status. Since humility is a natural strength of theirs, instead of leveraging their positional power for personal gain, self-promotion or demands for special privileges, they set measures for success on making the people around them succeed by making them better.
4. Push authority down.
Everybody is familiar with the leader-follower structure in a top-down culture, right? The problem here is that employees are released from any responsibility of the hard work of using their brains to make decisions! People who are treated as followers, you will find, will treat others as followers when it's their turn to lead. In turn, a vast untapped human potential is lost as a result of treating people as followers. In highly effective organizations, there are leaders at every level, not just at the top. The solution is always to push authority down so you're creating a leader-leader culture.