Bosses boss – leaders motivate


Are your employee’s friends or foes? If I was to walk into your company and look around I would have a pretty good idea as to your attitude towards employees in about five minutes. To confirm my first impression all I have to do is take a look at the employee handbook or policy manual. Does it only discuss rule violations and disciplinary actions? Or does it offer a positive message?

At Perot Systems, a company founded by Ross Perot and later acquired by the Dell Inc. the policy manual left no doubt as to the company’s attitude. In simple direct language it spelt out a commitment to helping every employee achieve superior performance and grow within the organisation. Among the items included were:

We will:

  • Have only one class of team member. Each member will be a full member
  • Recognise and reward, while the individual is still sweating from the effort
  • Build and maintain a spirit of ‘one for all and all for one’.
  • Eliminate any opportunity for people to succeed by merely looking good
  • Promote solely ‘on merit’

The relationships you establish with your employees says a lot about your ability to inspire and motivate, and so, before you look at your team, take a look at yourself and your style of management. Take a look at the list below and decide where your approach fits best. Put a tick beside any points under ‘Leader’ and an X under any points under ‘Boss’. If you score heavy on the X’s you need to review your approach.

Great leaders motivate their teams through communication, training, trust, backup, loyalty, support and attention to problem areas.

Communication: the essence of good teamwork is, of course, interaction, the ability to communicate in ways that are meaningful to each employee so that they can identify and share in the mission of the business. Without clear, honest communication the information, so vital to getting things done, will get blocked.

Training: Training your team and evaluating performances ensures they become good at what they do and this allows you to delegate tasks and roles with confidence.

Trust: In time, a high level of trust will develop between you and each member of the team, which triggers a new level of responsibility in each employee, and a responsibility on you to nurture this relationship. Do not bad mouth any employee in front of others and keep your thoughts to yourself. Address any issue directly with the individual concerned and agree a solution together.

Backup: Everyone makes mistakes, has a bad day or an emergency situation to handle. Be prepared to provide back-up for a team member who runs into a temporary problem.

Loyalty: People need to know that you will support their decisions and actions once they have performed with integrity, honesty and commitment to the mission. If your team are afraid to act, because you will distance yourself from any mistake, then you will find the right decisions will not be made at the appropriate time.

Support: Show your employees that you appreciate their skills, aptitudes, and contributions to the company’s achievements. ‘Thank you’ are the two most important words in the English language and you should use them with sincerity and often.

Problem solving: Try to help your employees by identifying problem areas early on, so the difficulties can be overcome while the problems are still small, this will enable your team to learn to support one another to remedy situations that may occur in your absence.


‘Taking steps in faith’. If you are new to the idea of motivating your employees through inspirational leadership here is a poem to help inspire you.

“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t. We are afraid.”
“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We can’t. We will fall.”
“Come to the edge,” he said.
And they came. And he pushed them.
And they flew.