Unconventional Leadership Approaches

September 9, 2013


Here are two approaches to leadership that have served one senior manager very well.

1. Think and act as if you work for your employees – not the other way around.

Words like “boss” and “direct report” or “subordinate” reinforce the idea that your employees work and support you.  A more fruitful way to think about the relationship is that you should carry the support role.  Your support takes many forms.  You have to ensure that employees have everything they need to do their jobs well – tools, resources, and information.  In addition, you should serve as a sounding board for new ideas, a facilitator to help get things done and a mentor skilled and willing to give advice and feedback.  To offer this kind of support and do it well, you have to work on yourself.  It’s not easy.  You must be approachable, open-minded, empathetic and a skilled listener.

2. Don’t try to motivate people – focus on removing de-motivating conditions. 

People want to work and do their best.  Let them!  One way to do this is to spend time thinking about conditions that might de-motivate employees and remove them.  You’ll gain much more by eliminating de-motivating conditions than by creating new incentives, bonuses and perks.


Adapted from Jim O’Shea, NEPA Hotline,

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