Leadership is not about being in charge: how to motivate your team

“A good leader doesn’t only inspire us to have confidence in what they can do,” organisational guru Simon Sinek tells us. “A great leader inspires us to have confidence in what we can do.”

If we think of great leaders throughout history, one thing they have in common is that they managed to unite and galvanise people in order to achieve change.

As leaders in organisations, we strive to motivate teams of people. It’s not always easy – but it is crucial. The people who make up our businesses are the keys to our success; if they aren’t positive and engaged, we have a problem.

But how do we cut through the superficial hype around leadership and instead find techniques to lead with integrity and purpose?

For me, the cornerstones of effective leadership are:

  • leading by example
  • getting to know individuals.

Lead by example

As a team leader and senior mining engineer at MEC Mining, I consistently show my team what I expect of them through my own actions. This builds respect, inspires confidence and helps create a positive work culture.

Simon Sinek again puts this idea succinctly when he writes, “Leadership is not about being charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”

In my work, leading by example includes:

  • communicating regularly, meaningfully and clearly, both up and down the chain. I raise the questions and concerns of my team when I represent them at meetings with other team leaders, managers and directors. And I feed back to my team after these meetings to keep them in the loop. If I want my people to be open and clear with me, then I need to make sure I’m open and clear with them.
  • learning from challenges. As much as celebrating wins and achievements is important, so too is the process of learning from situations where things don’t go to plan. We do this as a team, and I include myself in that learning process.

Get to know individuals

Always remember that individuals make up a team. Recognise that people have different goals, attitudes, strengths and interests.

Once I was assigned my team, I set out to get to know them one by one. I conducted performance reviews and goal-setting sessions in order to work out what motivates each of them and how MEC can help them get to where they want to be.

If you’re looking for ways to inspire your team, approach them as individuals. Suggest ideas that are tailored to each person so that they feel valued for their own contribution to the whole. In this way, you:

  • build genuine connections with your people
  • make them proud of their own strengths
  • inspire them to be the best they can be
  • foster a culture where diversity is valued.

With these techniques in place, you’ll build a firm foundation for a healthy, productive work culture. Don’t forget to add some fun into the mix as well – arranging social events like team lunches allows people get to know each other outside of the office or off-site, which is also important for strengthening bonds and boosting motivation levels.