How Can You Tell Someone Has What It Takes to Be a Leader? Watch for Any of These 5 Signs

Since the year 2000, roughly 70 percent of the U.S. workforce has been disengaged, according to Gallup research.

Workers may show up to do what’s required of the job, but they don’t show up with their full selves because they’re just not into their work.

No leader wants to have a disengaged and unmotivated worker on their team. It hurts productivity and lowers morale. This begs the question: In an era where employees call the shots during one of the most precarious times in our history, how do you really engage and motivate your employees?

That’s a great starting point for powerful discussions that I often have with my executive coaching clients. Here’s what I often tell them:

1. Give them work that has meaning and purpose

Studies have revealed that workers who have a sense of purpose are more focused, creative, and resilient. Leaders must make a practice of reminding their employees how their work makes a difference and changes the lives of those they serve. Employees often feel happier and more engaged because they are able to connect to the deeper meaning of their work, and how their work ties into the company’s mission, or their own personal and professional goals.

2. Share your power

Studies indicate that when selfless leaders focus more on their employees than on themselves — including sharing their power and even status — it increases productivity. You’ll find that these exceptional leaders get down in the trenches and work alongside their people, connecting to them on a deeper level, which builds trust.

3. Remove the fear

Start by developing a feeling of acceptance and an atmosphere of encouragement, and praising good work. Remove the fear from the atmosphere by offering employees plenty of freedom and ownership of their work, giving them a voice to express their ideas, and allowing for risks to be taken and mistakes to be made as part of their learning and growth. 

4. Set clear expectations

Employees are motivated by knowing as much information as possible in meeting a shared goal. And great leaders provide leadership by communicating consistently about where the bus is headed. A Gallup research study found that one of the top five reasons why people quit is due to not having clear goals and expectations. Every leader should be asking the question: Do my team members know what is expected of them?

5. Coach them to success

In the sports world, it’s essential for top athletes to have a coach. But when it comes to the business world, coaching is a rare commodity. Managers typically don’t have the time or knowledge or see the value in it. This belief about coaching needs to change because, truthfully, managers who are good coaches will produce greater results in less time, increase a team’s productivity, and ultimately develop more leaders out of their followers. Coaching in its best form doesn’t have to be a formal and fancy process requiring a big budget (we offer our clients a simple model they can learn in a few short sessions). Once you nail down the basics of coaching, it’s simply a process of mutual and positive dialogue that includes asking questions, giving advice, providing support, following through on action planning, and making time to help grow an employee. Then, watch the magic happen as employees show up with their best selves.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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