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To be an effective leader, you need to stay on the right side of the line between motivating people and trying to hold control or power over them. Leadership doesn’t need to lean on authority; it never asks people to do things with a parental “because I said so.”

Leadership is complex. Many leaders think their position carries a right—even an obligation, in tough times—to make demands. But it’s exactly in those tough times that people need a leader who can manage effectively. Ideally, that means bringing together a diverse team with different expertise, skills and work styles and exploring different ways of moving your organization toward its goals. As the leader, you have accountability, authority. To accomplish the team’s goals, you’ll be expected—among other things—to motivate, facilitate, encourage, communicate effectively, build trust, and resolve conflict. And that is leadership.

So how do you motivate people without authority? Here are some possibilities:

Cultivate a healthy culture. Establish a relaxed environment where everyone is encouraged to speak up and share their opinions and ideas. A respectful, encouraging climate makes people feel valued and motivated to work hard and accomplish great things.

Set goals that give direction. Leadership depends on setting understandable and attainable goals. When you bring together a diverse set of people, clear, specific goals are even more essential. Team members have their own perspectives and views that can lead your team in different directions to the point that they’re going in circles if there’s no central direction. Work to earn the respect of your team to protect it from conflict, friction, dispute or discord. Set he goals and direction in such a way that everyone feels they are supported and motivated.

Get rid of dumb rules. A heavy-handed approach can lead to resentment and noncompliance. Get rid of any rules and regulations that aren’t really necessary. If you’re stuck in an old model of arbitrary regulations, learn to adapt to the changing environment. Freeing people up from being policed over dumb rules is always motivating.

Make relationships partnerships. If people believe you are in it with them, it will motivate them to work harder to succeed. Partnership creates community; it means that together you will accomplish great things. Thinking of yourself as a partner helps keep you flexible and inspires others to do great things.

Empower people to be great. Leaders who give power to others can be very influential and motivating. When you use your power to help others accomplish great things, they will naturally feel a sense of trust. And when people feel trust, they take more responsibility for outcomes. Empowerment is a great motivator, and it can be used to recognize the efforts of those who work hard and achieve success.

Leading a team is a definite challenge that can put all your skills to the test—from setting goals to involving team members in decision making to creating a climate of openness and honesty. But when you demonstrate that you believe in the value of their work and you’re willing to help overcome any obstacles they encounter, they will respect your integrity and work hard to achieve great results.

Lead from within: If you remember to put your team’s needs first and work hard to protect their interests, you’ll prove to them that you’re passionately committed to their success.

N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.