At the beginning of my career as a leadership coach, I became curious about what makes some teams better than others—why some teams facing significant challenges outperform those with more advantages. After decades of experience with every imaginable type of leader and team, I think I know the secret of those successful teams: their leaders act in ways that meet each person’s individual emotional needs.
Gary Chapman’s 1992 book The Five Love Languages introduced the idea of love languages—actions tailored to your partner’s specific emotional makeup. Successful leadership requires a similar approach. If you want people to thrive and excel, you have to figure out what motivates them. When you understand the makeup of your team members, you’ll know what actions you can take to help them succeed. Here are six of the most common employee languages:
Quality time. Some people thrive on spending time with their boss. They love talking through processes and procedures, and they find one-on-one time stimulating rather than stressful. Making time for these people on a regular basis helps them feel appreciated and secure.
A supporting hand. Many people prefer to do things on their own with no help, but others work best as part a team. They enjoy being part of a community of peers working together and supporting one another. Group these collaborative-minded people with others who feel the same way and they’ll thrive.
Acknowledgment. Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Verbal appreciation and acknowledgement are powerful communicators to most people—everyone likes knowing their hard work and contributions are noticed. Be generous with encouraging words and recognition to your entire team.
Opportunities for growth. Some people are content to be right where they are, doing what they’re doing. Others feel most appreciated when they’re giving opportunities for growth, for learning and stretching themselves as individuals. Challenge these people and watch them excel.
Compensation. Some people don’t feel truly appreciated unless they have a tangible thing or act that acknowledges their work. Money always works, but it can be as simple as a special lunch or a thoughtful gift with a personal note of thanks. It doesn’t have to be expensive—the point is that you value them.
Trust. Many people perform their best in the presence of obvious trust. When you empower these people, they’re motivated to show that your trust was well placed. And when you let them know it’s OK even when they make mistakes, they’ll take the kind of risks that can bring great results.
Feeling secure, safe and significant gives people a sense of self-worth that frees them to achieve. Work to discover the language of your team members, and in return they’ll do great things.
Lead from within: Success for any of us means figuring out what drives us and makes us feel we matter. Feeling valued is the foundation of that success.
#1 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.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- How Great Leadership is Generated in Significant Crisis
- How to Lead Your Team When The Future Is Uncertain
- The One Aspect Of Crisis Management That No One Talks About
- How The Best Leaders Are Already Planning Past The Crisis
- How to Engage Employees During Uncertain Times
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
Photo Credit: iStockPhotos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.