Brilliant Leaders – how do we make everybody feel like a somebody?

By Shalini Gadhia

Leadership is about striving to bring out the best in someone else. It’s more about exploring the talents in other people rather than ourselves. People usually feel motivated to use their talents and knowledge to their best when they are given the power to make decisions and they are recognized and or praised. How then do we as leaders ensure that everyone in our team feels like a somebody to achieve optimum performance?

  1. Dump your Ego

This is usually our number one enemy in the workplace – it is the cause of disagreements, conflicts, lack of teamwork and gossip etc to mention a few.

We tend to operate from our own perspective and perceptions and hardly ever understand others’ point of view. Often the notion is that if we have been hired for a position, we must make all the decisions and our team must do what we say.

It is therefore very important to remember that we must make an effort to change our current ways of thinking, appreciate the presence of our team, be humble and ensure that everyone is addressed from the same level as opposed to having a typical Boss-Worker relationship. After all, isn’t your team that builds you and ensures that you can hold your position as a result of all the work they do? As Adam Grant says ‘promote those who challenge you, not praise you’.

Once we treat others as we would like to be treated, they will automatically feel appreciated and an improvement in attitude and performance will result.

  1. Listening

This automatically happens once the ego has been dumped. Once we have checked on our egos, taking into account what others say will come naturally.

Effective listening entails clearly absorbing what the other person is saying and giving appropriate responses.

This will make the other person feel that what they are saying is important and they will automatically strive to push to do better.

Of course, this does not mean that we have to agree with everything that the other person is saying, but just effective listening will make the other person feel heard and hence satisfied.

As a leader, even in instances when we do not agree with our team member(s), it is important to finish listening and we can then express our difference in opinion politely so that we do not hurt or offend the other person.

  1. Focusing on positive attributes

Teams are usually made up individuals who possess diverse talents and abilities. This means that not everyone may be good at everything they do.

In this case, it is very important that we focus on the overall strengths of each individual. This means that we must allocate tasks to each team member based on the strengths they hold. However, it is important to note that we should always continue developing the not so strong attributes of these individuals as their growth is our primary responsibility.

After all, as FIFA World Cup Champion Abby Wambach saysYour weaknesses are important, because where your weaknesses lie is where my strengths overlap. You have to have weaknesses, otherwise my strengths wouldn’t be my strengths; my strengths wouldn’t be seen’

When we focus on individuals’ strengths, it motivates them and consequently strives them to perform better. As we may all know from our experiences, when we know we can handle a particular task, we are more likely to want to do it faster and with a positive attitude – we feel trusted and we will strive to do our best. 

  1. Rewards and Recognition

Having said all of the above regarding attitudes and behavior towards employees, it is essential that we also implement ways of rewarding and recognizing our employees as these methods prove to be more tangible ways of appreciating our team members.

Rewards can take the form of having a team lunch or dinner to celebrate the completion of a project, rewarding day(s) off in exchange for overtime done and giving a pay rise for a contract won, amongst others.

Recognition usually comes in the form of presenting tokens of appreciation like trophies and certificates in the presence of other company staff.

Such gestures usually go a long way as employees feel appreciated which in turn wants to make them do better.

Making employees feel that they matter plays a HUGE part in the success of a team. We as leaders must ensure that every member of our team feels like a somebody – only then can we become brilliant leaders.

The author is a marketing professional with 10 years of work experience across various industries.