By Mattson Newell (@MattsonNewell), Client Partner for Partners in Leadership, and an expert and author on breakthrough communications, global human resources, and talent development
Leaders are often eccentric types, driven to set themselves apart from the crowd. But while each may have had unique insights that drove their success in business, they all share a few things in common: namely, the fundamental skills and practices necessary to effectively influence others.
Bill Gates famously and wisely said, "As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others."
How do leaders empower employees? Follow these three principles:
1. The Power of Simplicity
In 1962, John F. Kennedy famously captured the spirit of American self-determination by saying, "We choose to go to the moon." This slogan enchanted the American people, not just because it was exciting, but because it was memorable in its simplicity. Kennedy's speech was famously effective, and helped him gain support from the American public for his larger vision for the country's future.
Visionary leaders recognize the power of simplicity to convince and motivate others, and create mission statements that are memorable, powerful, and to the point. Every single person in your company, from the janitor to the CEO, should be able to clearly state both what the company does and how they personally contribute to achieving the organization's Key Results.
2. Always Bring Value
To achieve their larger business goals, leaders need their employees to succeed -- that's why great leaders are always thinking about how they can empower the people around them. Whether they're guiding the design of a new product or scheduling a 15-minute check-in with a junior employee, great leaders strive to add value to the company by supporting and strengthening the resolve of their employees.
Be intentional and driven by your company's Key Results in all interactions -- no matter how large or small. Doing this not only helps keep your organization focused, but also motivates employees to invest in the company's mission.
3. Choose to Believe
Walt Disney is an iconic example of a visionary leader who chose to believe in something, declaring that the idea for his groundbreaking theme park, Disneyland, "means a lot to me. It's something that will never be finished, something I can keep developing." Despite his dedication, he was told time and again by prospective financiers of the project that Disneyland was a terrible idea, that it would be a financial failure, and that people wouldn't want to visit the theme park. He chose to believe in his vision, which permeated the organization and made Disneyland the hugely successful destination that it is today.
It's critical to believe in your company and its goals, but great leaders know that this faith is intentional. Visionary leaders choose to believe: they choose to believe in their employees, in the product, in the company, and in everything they strive for. It's this willingness to believe that keeps them from giving up or feeling beaten down by failures along the way. And it's this faith that ultimately drives their company to achieve bigger and better things.