What makes a great leader? What’s their most important job? 

A leader, by definition, is a person who leads and influences a group of people. 

So, the most important focus for a leader should be the PEOPLE in their team(s). Sometimes this can be easily forgotten, even more in large companies, but it’s essential not to lose sight of your company’s most valuable asset.  

You are not dealing with numbers; you are dealing with human beings. And every one of them has their own lives, their own challenges and their own ways of doing things.

So be aware and conscious of people’s emotions and feelings. Not everything can be measured on an excel sheet. 

Whatever your business or company does, it would be impossible for you to do everything in it. It is a team effort, and everyone has their role.  

Yours is to make sure they are happy, feeling inspired, and motivated and that they have what they need to do their job in the best way possible. 

Here are three areas you should focus on if you want to be successful at your leader role:

Find people’s strengths

Every person is different, so measuring everyone by the same metric is a big, but common mistake. 

“Everyone is brilliant at something. No one is brilliant at everything” – René Carayol. 

The critical part here is to know the people on your team, spend time talking to them, create a safe environment in which they can excel at communicating to you and the group as a minimum.

It is the only way you can identify their strengths and help them fulfil their potential. 

Once you know what the people in your team are great at, you should maximise their strengths. There are many different ways you can do this:

Assign projects concentrating and utilising these strengths so that they can maximise their performance.  

Creating teams where people complement each other. If you know their strengths and weaknesses, it would be easier to create groups that work well together and help each other. 

On the other hand, if you expect everyone to be great at everything, you will end up with a team of mediocre people. 

I saw a clear example of this mistake in my rugby career. Rugby players who were great at being mobile and agile around the park get told by their coach that they need to gain weight, so they spend the whole year focusing on this. Lifting weights, getting strong, big and massive.

At the end of the year, they don’t get their contract renewed. When they asked why they were told it was because they weren’t mobile and agile anymore, they had become too big and cumbersome!

Terrible coaching and a real lack of understanding around what someone’s great strengths are.

The story above is a clear example of how critical it is to recognise people’s talents.

Everyone has their superpower, and people should focus the majority of their time on doing what they do best, instead of wasting time focusing on their weaknesses and the things that they aren’t very good at, resulting in them just being “ok” at everything. 

A great leader equals a great teacher

Can you remember a teacher who was so good that they made you love a subject or kept your attention and motivation super high when you were a student?

We like to compare great leaders with great teachers because their jobs have fundamental similarities. Both inspire and both motivate people. 

It is vital that you understand people’s motivations, both personally and professionally. If you have a company culture with a clear mission or vision, it is worth investing time to ensure that it aligns with your people’s values.

All of us tend to be more effective and productive when working towards something we are passionate about. 

Something I try to do with my team is to ask them about their personal goals. I try to get to know them and understand what motivates and drives them. 

It’s important to remember that we spend a big part of our lives at work, so investing time into understanding the goals of others is a surefire way of ensuring that you and your people achieve fulfilment.

A big part of your job as a leader is to inspire, motivate and influence people. 

Focus on their development

Suppose you know their strengths and also their goals and aspirations. The third significant step is to do everything you can to help them develop their talents, maximise their potential and achieve their goals. 

  • Assign them projects where they can focus on something they love. Challenge them to grow and evolve. 
  • Invest in training and development material for them. Allow them the time to learn. 
  • Ask them what they want to do next, and help them do it. 

When people in your company and teams feel appreciated, when they are fulfilling their life goals and feeling inspired, they will be more productive and committed to improving their performance.

The bonus of this is that they will be more loyal to you, your company, and the rest of the team because they feel valued by you.

The benefits of focusing on these points are endless, but here are just a few: improvement in employee satisfaction, reduced turnover, increased productivity, and a group of engaged and motivated people working together towards a common goal. 

At Optimist Performance, we focus on maximising people’s potential, and we help businesses build a culture of success. We specialise in team-building, leadership, resilience, and change management. 

Get in touch with us for a free consultation about our transformative talks, workshops, and 1-1 coaching sessions.