How leaders generate excitement and create teams

I am often asked by colleagues, store owners and managers how I make people follow visual standards or guidelines.  “How do you get them to understand?”  “How do you get them to comply?,”  and so forth.  Some might wonder if a magic potion exists that drives reps and sales people to jump on board with the same sense of merchandising mania I possess.  Alas, there is no one-size-fits-all formula that I have discovered.

What I have discovered is that people often do their best when they know what to do, and how to do it.  Let’s face it, most workers are not slackers or disinterested, at least in my experience.  Most people take pride in their work and enjoy the affirmations that come from their superiors.  I always assume this to be true until proven otherwise in any case. And I strongly believe that most people do their best work for employers they sense respect and value them.

So when I am asked that question, this is what I say: 

You can’t necessarily reach everyone with the same communication tools or even the same message. You also can’t expect everyone to get as excited about everything.  Your job as a leader is to determine what makes your workers tick and then provide them with the knowledge so that they know what to do and to delegate tasks accordingly.

Some people do beautifully if you teach them a skill, then let them loose without micro-managing their every step.  Others do better if you provide them with concrete guidance either in the form of a map or written instruction and then check in periodically.  Still others do their best work through collaborating with co-workers, preferring this to any task alone. Like I said, this is for you, their leader, to discover.

But the absolute most important non-negotiable in my opinion is that you need to be passionate, excited and positive about the work you are doing if you want to lead others.  It is contagious to be around people who enjoy what they do.  Their excitement generates more excitement.  If you operate with the sense that no matter what you do, nothing will improve, then why in the world would anyone follow your lead?

So perhaps the best answer of how to get people to do what you want is simultaneously simple and complicated.  Simple, because ideally you are a walking, talking example of why the work is worthwhile, and complicated because the best leaders spend a fair amount of time getting to know their employees and then work to their strengths.

Leading is not the same as managing.  Leading suggests having those that follow.  Isn’t that your goal in the first place?

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