All of us want to matter. All of us want to make a difference. I think that’s just part of human nature.
So, here’s a question for team leaders: Do you matter? Does your leadership have a real impact?
If an employee goes to work elsewhere, will they still remember you in five years’ time? Will they look back on your leadership as something that helped them grow and develop, or will they feel like you just held them back?
I think there’s a lot of value in asking those questions. And if you don’t like your answers, I’ve got good news: There are some solutions available that can help you make your leadership style more meaningful. Let me offer some examples.
Transformational Leadership: Becoming a Leader Who Matters
Surround Your Employees with Trust
One starting point is to ask how you’d like to be treated if you were in the employee’s shoes— and most employees want to feel trusted above all else. (You could ask 100 people if they like being micromanaged, and I’ll bet you wouldn’t find a single person to say yes.)
My practical advice is to let employees do their work without interference—with a couple of caveats. One, there has to be some kind of reporting system in place, to ensure the work you entrust them with does get done. And two, you need to leave your door open for questions; it’s okay to “interfere” if your employees specifically come to you for direction or coaching!
Give Good Feedback
Again, think about how you’d like to be treated—and specifically, think about the best employee feedback you ever received. What was it like? How was it delivered? Can you use it as a model for delivering feedback of your own?
There’s much that could be said about delivering feedback. For now, I’ll just note that you always want to be specific, and you want to offer comments that are actionable. Don’t complain or criticize, but instead point out avenues for real improvement.
Invest in The Careers of Your Team Members
How much do you care about your own career? Probably a lot, right?
Well, that’s how much you should care about the careers of your employees, too.
That means providing them with opportunities to stretch themselves—and room to fail. It also means connecting employees with resources for further education and training. And, it means being willing to coach them about how they can move forward in their work.
Work on Weaknesses
Another way to be a transformational leader, a leader who matters? Once you earn the trust of your employee, talk with him or her about professional shortcomings. Get them to acknowledge the areas where they are weakest or where they feel the least confidence.
Then, pledge to give them opportunities to work on those areas—with the caveat that you won’t include them on formal performance reviews. Offer the gift of improvement without unnecessary pressure.
Instill a Sense of Mission
One final solution for becoming a leader who makes a difference: Connect each employee to the big picture.
Instill them with a sense of purpose that goes beyond themselves, specifically by showing them how their role fits into the big picture and helps the rest of the team function at a peak level.
Make sure everyone sees how their role makes an impact.
These are just a few of the things leaders can do that employees will really take with them. For those who are looking to be memorable, I recommend you start here!
And don’t forget, my Solutions Oriented Leader book is now available to order online. In this first-of-a-kind, comprehensive guide, I’ll lead you through the everyday challenges of the modern workplace while providing you with easy-to-implement solutions to achieve world-class results!