So often we find someone or something else to blame if we feel unfulfilled or unhappy with our life, circumstances or job. It may be at times that the circumstances around us have not worked entirely in our favour, or someone has behaved unfairly towards us; but we can never, ever say that we had absoutlety no control over what happens next! We always have a choice and can always make a decision; we can always strive for a positive outcome no matter what the circumstance may be.
To a large extent this is something that leaders have a responsibility to help create: The environment and circumstances in which those that follow them feel that they have a measure of control over their lives and over the conditions in which they have to live and work. If you are able to achieve this you will have more fulfilled, more motivated and more productive followers. Basically people want work that provides meaning and they want circumstances in which they can express their talents to the full.
There are so many things that leaders can do but here are a few ideas that will help the process along:
• Be consciously in the present when you engage with those that you lead. Be focussed on the here and now and tune in intensely to what your followers are saying and expressing, verbally or otherwise. This way they will know that they have your attention and that you really value their contribution.
• Always try to keep things in perspective. Try not to make small issues bigger than they need to be. The world is big and complex enough without further complicating it by blowing things out of proportion to their importance.
• Learn to bounce back from setbacks. Do this quickly and positively. Help everyone to concentrate on where you are attempting to go, and what you are trying to achieve, rather than on the past and the recent setback. The setback is what it is and nothing can change it, but you most certainly can affect the way of the future. Make bouncing back a way of life and this will breed a culture of resilience. Part of successful bouncing back is doing so with a healthy sense of humour. Help your people always to see the lighter side of life. A sense of humour is a great stress reliever.
• Always be committed. Be passionate about what you do and show it. It is infectious and will enthuse your followers.
• Concentrate on building a strong sense of teamwork at the heart of which is a commitment to each other, and a genuine seeking out of opportunities to help and support each other.
• Play to your strengths. Understand what you are really good at and use those strengths to motivate others to do the same. Select people as far as possible that compliment your strengths so that you do not end up competing for space but rather helping each other to completely fill the available space with your collective energy and drive. Working together we will always be better than the sum of the parts.
• Be positive. Strive to look at the optimistic side of life. No-one finds negativism and pessimism attractive. Those who constantly find fault and see the downside in everything seldom attract the kind of followers that make a positive difference.
• Maintain an action orientation. In the end, no matter how much reflection and planning may be necessary, the only thing that really counts will be action. You need to show that you ‘do’ things and not only talk about doing things. Take action!
• Be kind to your people. Show them that you really care. This will be experienced, not in the big things, although these are important, but in the little things. Just by helping people along without wanting the fanfare of mass recognition will help to build a reputation as one who truly cares; someone who does things from the heart and not for public recognition. It is easier and more sustainable to be good to people and for them to experience your niceness first hand than to behave in a ruthless uncaring manner. People don’t hang around to be abused for too long! Part of doing this is to show true gratitude when it is due. Let people know that you truly appreciate whatever it is they have done to make a difference. When you do this you send a message to the whole organisation about what values are important and what behaviour should be repeated.
It is your organisation to make and mould and will be a reflection of who you are too! So what kind of legacy do you want to leave?!