Far too often an organization gets into the "leader-follower" rut. This is where you play like you're a mother duck with her ducklings crossing the road -- you do all the leading, and your people merely follow along. That's a problem. Why? Because you simply can't do it all.
There are five important words I want you to remember: YOU CAN'T DO IT ALL.
You have great employees that you handpicked for a reason, so let them utilize the skills they have honed and make your leadership circle bigger. When you encourage your employees to show you just how creative they can be, you get great ideas for growth and increased value for your customers.
Here are five easy but powerful ways to get your team motivated and get the most from them every day:
1. Toss the organizational chart.
Okay, while you might not be ready to toss your organization chart into the trash, why not stick it in a drawer and forget about it for a while? Instead of deciding who the leaders in your organization are or who they should be, let them emerge on their own. Leaders tend to lead, and you will soon know who wants to step up. You'll also soon know which employees would prefer to let others lead. That's okay -- every organization needs leaders and followers.
2. Let freedom reign.
If you want your employees to take initiative at work (and believe me, you do), they have to know that you support them. Give your people the freedom to take chances and experiment with new ideas, and to make decisions within their areas of responsibility. Shine a spotlight on your employees by letting them take the credit for their own successes. Be sure that all managers understand the importance of sharing leadership -- and reward those who delegate well.
3. Find your leaders.
Taking on a leadership role can be very intimidating for many employees -- especially those who have never been in a formal position of leadership before. Encourage your employees to lead by rewarding and reinforcing leadership behavior. Give raises or promotions when your people are willing to take on higher-level roles and responsibilities -- or to set the bar even higher -- and you will find more employees from all levels of your organization who are willing to lead.
4. Make them feel important.
Every employee has the ability to make a positive impact on your organization and on your customers and clients. Show your employees that you value them and their contributions while actively encouraging them to take initiative to act and to try new approaches to old problems. The most successful companies have figured out the importance of making their employees feel important -- and they actively take steps to do it.
5. Offer leadership training to all employees.
Most organizations only offer leadership training to supervisors and managers, but in order for all employees to successfully take on leadership roles, they must first be properly trained. Since not all hires have experience in leadership, it's important to offer training to all employees. Pair experienced leaders with followers and encourage them to learn from each other and to switch roles when appropriate.