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How to Lead People

Updated on July 16, 2015

1. How to be Liked

This is the most important. If I don't like you, I will not prioritise tasks that you have given me, or perhaps not do them at all. I'll likely not respect you, and I certainly won't go out of my way to help you!

Why might people take a dislike to you?

  1. You don't respect them. Do you say 'please' when you want something done? Do you distribute your tasks evenly between the people you want to lead? Do you care about them as people, not just as bodies operating for you?
  2. You don't laugh with them. Humans evoke passion, machines do not. If you want to inspire true loyalty in your employees, friends group or platoon, you have to appear human. My old platoon commander did it fantasticly - whenever I did anything wrong, I'd look around to see if anyone had seen. Every single time, he had, and he would grin at me, probably laugh a bit too. I wouldn't hear anything from it, all he wanted me to know was that he'd seen and I was an idiot.
  3. You don't lead by example. Let's take a scenario. The people working for you can see that they are working, and that you are not. Do not take the stance that you are above them. You are a team, and that chances are if your employees see you working, they will work better.
  4. You discuss an employee with another employee. Whether it's personal stuff, performance at work, a moan, it's a definite no-go. Do not say anything negative about any of your employees to any one of them, apart from the person directly involved if required. Gossip gets around and it builds up resentment.
  5. You don't try and help them. If one of your employees has a problem, do you endeavour to help them? If they tell you they are sick, or a family member is sick, do you try and cover their day? Chances are, if you go out of your way to help somebody just once when they really need it, even if it's just a wage advance, you will inspire loyalty for life.

Now, just as importantly. What makes people like you?

  1. Socialise with them. This doesn't mean you have to get absolutely smashed, but I've seen my old platoon commander in a dress on many occasions and if anything I respected his banter, and his ability to be on parade very early the next morning!
  2. Treat the people you are leading. Maybe buy them all a drink at the bar, organise a dinner social on you, send a delivery of krispy kremes to them at lunch time. If doesn't have to be very often, but the return you get will often be worth more than the money you put in.
  3. Show interest in the individual. You should know personal things about the people you interact with everyday. You should know if her husband has cancer, or his wife is pregnant, or if someone is moving house or buying a new car. Chat to people, get to know them. And don't be afraid to talk about your life - give people personal tidbits of information to add to your human image.
  4. Take their complaints seriously. Hear them out, and if you can change it to benefit them, do it. If you can't, explain why, and find a solution together.
  5. Be observant. Is someone looking a bit down? Do they look pale or stressed? Pay close attention to them. Let them know you can help them - ask them what do they need from you?

Do not be this boss.
Do not be this boss. | Source

2. How to be someone worth following

Are you passionate? Are you aggressive in reaching your goals? Are you driven and determined? Do you ooze enthusiasm, pack a punch, give it your all? You have to have it to inspire it.

I learned in the Army that not everyone can lead well. Some people, ultimately, do not have the determination and pro-activeness to make themselves leaders. Chances are, if you are reading this hub, you are doing just that.

You need to be a pro when it comes to what you do. You need to be the best, be the strongest, be the fastest. You need to be at work at 6am because you were too buzzed about your business to sleep. You need to be the first one on parade because you're an absolute tank. Your fitness scores need to be one of the best. Your attendance needs to be one of the best. If you aren't the best, why should people follow you? They might do what you say because you pay them, but they do not follow you.

You should know everything that the people you interact with everyday should be doing. Ideally, you should have already had some experience in doing their job before you employed them. This also helps you know when they're having you over!
You should know everything that the people you interact with everyday should be doing. Ideally, you should have already had some experience in doing their job before you employed them. This also helps you know when they're having you over! | Source

3. Tell people how they're doing

If they're doing well:

  1. Actually notice. If someone works hard and you don't notice or give them any credit, they won't work hard forever.
  2. Make it worth their while. Give them a small pay rise, a few extra days holiday pay or more important jobs if they are career driven. If you're on exercise, I personally would be over the moon with a bag of haribo when the going gets tough, or get let off the bad jobs for a bit.
  3. Say so. Tell them they're doing well, and you're really grateful for the effort they're putting in.

If they're not doing well, you need to tell them before you sack them and give them the opportunity to improve. Be polite, calm and encouraging, and do it in private. Rather than using sentences like, you do this or you don't do that, say things like, I would really appreciate it if you did this or that. It triggers a much more positive response in people, and if you are on good terms they are more likely to put the effort in.

4. Take Responsibility

Ultimately, the buck stops with you. If you are managing a group of people and you yourself have people to answer to, you take the responsibility to them if anything goes wrong, and then you have a word with whoever's fault below you it was. At the end of the day, if something goes wrong, it's because you haven't managed them properly.

People screw up. Don't be too hard on them!
People screw up. Don't be too hard on them! | Source

And the most important...

Use your leadership, not your power

When asking people to do something, there are two very different approaches. You can use your power, ie just ask them to do it because you are the boss and you pay them to do what you say. That will evoke a mostly passive response. It will probably get done, likely just the way you asked for it, possibly on time.

Or, you can lead people to do what you want them to do. Explain why it's important, the benefits of it being done, why you are asking them to do it. End with, 'can you do that for me?' to evoke a direct response to doing it for you. This method is a lot more likely to inspire passion, perhaps they will give you ideas and ways of doing things you didn't think of. They will understand their exact role, and why they individually are important, not just another body in a company or just another soldier.

What is the most important quality in a leader?

What is the most important quality in a leader?

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