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Updated 30 Sep 2020

Why leaders should be the light switch for their workforce

Leadership is all about inspiring your employees, not controlling them.

30 October 2014  Share  0 comments  Print

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While attending the GIBs Business Breakfast, Brand Pretorius, retired chief executive of McCarthy Limited and professional speaker, stressed the importance of viewing leadership as a responsibility, not a right.

Engaging your employees

In a 2013 survey from Gallup 8% of South African employees are actively engaged in the organisation, while a staggering 46% were actively disengaged. “In my view, this is a reflection of the quality of leadership,” says Pretorius.

What can leaders do to bring about committed and engage people? “Be the light switch every morning,” advises Pretorius.

“When you walk in to your business in the morning, look your people in the eye, show interest in them, engage with them, coach them and empower them.”

Are you leading or managing?

How deliberate are you as a leader to switch on the lights in your business? When you don’t communicate with or coach your staff you are essentially leaving them in the dark. This leads to disengagement and a lack of caring on their part. If you don’t care about your employees, how can you expect them to invest their efforts into their work?

“Leaders who switch on the lights don’t see leadership as a right, but as a responsibility,” says Pretorius.

“There’s a big difference between leading people and managing people. We spend a lot more time managing people rather than managing them.”

Managed people are more controlled which ultimately leads to them being less motivated and inspired. Rather, a leader is someone who motivates people, inspiring and trusting them.

“Leadership is about faith and passion and purpose,” says Pretorius. “In my experience the majority of teams are over-managed and under-lead.”

Be a servant leader

Pretorius observes: “You cannot lead on auto-pilot or by emulating someone else. You need to have your own unique style – an authentic leadership approach.”

Pretorius says that often leaders are simply autocratic transactional bosses, using their positional power and authority to rather intimidate people. But autocratic leadership is the mortal enemy of motivation and energy.

The alternative to this is servant leadership. “You must really care about your people and have the willingness to serve them, then you will notice that your employees will become more honest and more productive.”

Serving and getting results are mutually inclusive concepts, assures Pretorius. Before you can ask for a hand, you should be asking for the heart of your employee.

Only then will they become actively engaged in your business and through their own decision give you their best. 

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