5 tips for being a better leader:



1) How do you motivate people?

What’s the biggest motivator? Progress.

Via The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work:

of all the positive events that influence inner work life, the single most powerful is progress in meaningful work; of all the negative events, the single most powerful is the opposite of progress—setbacks in the work. We consider this to be a fundamental management principle: facilitating progress is the most effective way for managers to influence inner work life.


2) What’s the right attitude for a leader to have?

The best leaders are supportive, not controlling, even in the military:

Via The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work:

In the U.S. Navy, researchers found, annual prizes for efficiency and preparedness are far more frequently awarded to squadrons whose commanding officers are openly encouraging. On the other hand, the squadrons receiving the lowest marks in performance are generally led by commanders with a negative, controlling, and aloof demeanor.

Want your employees to perform better? It can be as easy as believing they are smarter than average and having high expectations. (Expecting people to be selfish can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.)


3) What will make you appear like a leader?

Yes, appearances matter. To be perceived as a leader, speak first. Speak confidently. Speak often.

In a study involving groups solving math problems, leaders proved to be no more competent than the other members. Those with the most dominant personalities ended up running things and it was because they spoke first and most forcefully.

Via The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us:

As you’ve probably anticipated, in the actual experiment, the group leaders proved to be no more competent than anyone else. They became leaders by force of personality rather than strength of ability. Before starting the group task, the participants completed a short questionnaire designed to measure how “dominant” they tended to be. Those people with the most dominant personalities tended to become the leaders. How did the dominant individuals become the group leaders even though they were no better at math? Did they bully the others into obeying, shouting down meek but intelligent group members? Did they campaign for the role, persuading others that they were the best at math, or at least the best at organizing their group? Not at all. The answer is almost absurdly simple: They spoke first. For 94 percent of the problems, the group’s final answer was the first answer anyone suggested, and people with dominant personalities just tend to speak first and most forcefully.


4) How can you inspire people?

Remind them why their jobs are important.

Noah Goldstein, co-author of Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, reviews a study:

Adam Grant, a scholar in the field of organizational behavior, realized that workers often fail to live up to their potential because they’ve lost track of the significance and meaningfulness of their own jobs. He figured that if he could remind employees of why their jobs are important, they might become more highly motivated, and therefore, more productive individuals.

What magic do both the speeches of Martin Luther King and the marketing of Apple have that move us to believe and act?

Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, has an interesting theory:

People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it… Start with “Why.”

(And when all else fails, yes, nagging works.)


5) How do you create change?

Leadership isn’t just systems and directions. Emotions are key. What strategies really improve companies?

Research involving 400 people across 130 companies in 4 continents came up with a simple answer: it’s about changing the behavior of the individuals that work there, and you can only do that by addressing their feelings.

Via Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard:

…the core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people, and behavior change happens in highly successful situations mostly by speaking to people’s feelings.

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