Effective Leadership is not Dictatorship

It’s guest post Monday! This post is written by Carl who has been a trainer and administrator for several high-profile businesses and continues to show mid-management how to become effective leaders. As well as contributing to college ranking and review sites such as Degree Jungle blog. If you would like to have a post featured on my site then click here.

Leadership can be confusing to many. It’s just that there are so many nuances of the subject. There is no secret recipe or magic formula for becoming an effective leader, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, it is a process of learning by trial and error, successes and failures.

Leadership is really about influencing people to believe in you and follow you. A leader takes people where they would never go on their own. So why do so many leaders fail? Today’s leaders often replicate poor leadership habits.

By nature, most of us resist change. We become comfortable and we fear the unknown. In order to become an effective leader and teacher you must let people know that you have a vision and they can trust you to lead them.

Consider these top four tasks of a proven leader;

1. Motivate the Crowd

Encourage your team members to the tasks that are most critical to achieving the main objectives. Make sure the rewards are useful and worthwhile. Try to understand each member and what they really want from their work and life in general. This is how you will know how to reward them:

  • Congratulate, show gratitude, and recognize all contributions. Do it often and then do it again.
  • Set up high expectations. Your team will evolve according to the expectations that you define. Set the bar high and say, “I believe in your ability to do great things!”
  • Empower people around you, delegating responsibilities.
  • Celebrate the successes of the team often.
  • Encourage Fun. Make your workplace a pleasant place in which to work. Yes, the work should come first, but short breaks can make all the difference in the culture of your team.

2. Turn Words into Actions. You need to practice what you preach. This is how you establish trust and credibility:

  • Lead by example by participating in team tasks as much as possible.
  • Be honest with your team. It can be difficult to keep promises, but actions speak louder than words.
  • Raise the bar and increase their personal challenges. Do better than your best as you ask your team to do their best.

3. Communicate Objectives. Create clear and simple objectives for your team, ensuring they understand the mission and their role in its implementation. This is done when you:

  • Focus your team on the minimum goals possible.
  • Communicate the goals of the team by various means – team meetings and emails.
  • Follow the progress in achieving the objectives.
  • Involve the team in monitoring objectives so that they take ownership of the results.

4. Embrace Change. Encourage the mavericks and go-getters in your group and you will lead innovation. A leader can accoplish this when they:

  • Change routines. Seek better ways to achieve the goals of the team.
  • Take risks. Authentic Leaders are not afraid of failure. People can never achieve accomplishments without some failures.
  • Learn. Practice the chess moves. “What can we improve for next time? “
  • Encourage team members to take risks, even if it may fail. Focus on lessons learned from past experience and by relying on them to find better solutions.

Question: What are some other tasks of a proven leader?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • You’re completely right in that leadership is not dictatorship, Carl.

    Leaders should be able to motivate and inspire others to act. Just being demanding and telling people what to do is not real leaderships – fleeting and can be tossed to the side at any moment. True leaders empower, encourage, celebrate and do many of the qualities you mention above. Thanks for sharing this post.

    • Great additional thoughts Vishnu! Those who try and lead through dictatorship or authority will eventually not be the leader or at least have talented or motivated people around them. Thank you for taking the time to read and share.

  • Empowering employees is such an important task of strong leadership. Unfortunately, many managers falsely believe that by running every aspect of the show — micro-managing their employees — they are acting as good leaders.

    But it’s actually very poor leadership.

    Employees that work in cultures like that just try to get by with doing the least possible. But if you show trust and empower your employees to make their own decisions and come up with their own solutions, you create a culture of innovation and excellence.

    I’ve worked both sides of the spectrum and the difference is amazing. A culture of empowerment brings success on a whole other level.


    • I also have been on both sides of the spectrum. I totally agree with you, their is a big difference between a person who micro-manages and one who actually leads and allows the people to take ownership. Thank you for taking the time to read and add to the discussion:)

  • For the team I lead it is very important that I communicate ideas and then back away and let the team run with the ideas. What I mean is that I try to avoid telling them exactly what to do but rather share with them theory and help them to creatively think about their tasks. Exactly how they will apply that theory is up to them. I find that they are much more likely to complete their tasks and complete them well when they are given that freedom.

    • Caleb,

      That’s a great way to give ownership to our people. When some they are given complete responsibility for a project or task while being supported by the leader but not in a micro-manager way they will take ownership and run with it. Thanks for sharing from your experience.

  • Great list. You alluded to it in the forward by stating that leadership isn’t a dictatorship. Humility is an overlooked powerful tool in which to lead. Insecurity causes some leaders to always have to be right and snuffs out creativity and purpose. No one likes to be around a “know it all” much less work for one…

    • I think both pride and insecurity causes leaders to make the wrong choices when it comes to leading. Thank you for adding to the discussion Floyd:)

  • This is a great list and I don’t think needs a lot added, but if anything, I would say in order to be a leader that is not a dictator, one needs to listen to his people. Know their concerns for the organization and/or project. Sometimes, leaders fly so far above the organization that we forget the people right down in it have a perspective we never thought of. By listening to them we may learn a lot about the organization.

    Tremendous post!

    • Great addition Matt! Listening to the people we lead is so essential when it comes to connecting with them and being an effective leader. Thanks for adding that.

  • Embracing change…I think that can be hard for so many people (myself included). What’s even harder (I think) is for a leader to encourage “go-getters” to go outside the box…but some of the greatest inventions are from people who thought outside the box and then ACTED.

    We have to remember past successes of others to have courage to work outside the social norms/boxes.

    • Hello TC Avey,

      Those are important tasks of a leader. Thank you for adding to the conversation and mentioning them.

  • A leader leads with his actions. He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. It’s a lot easier to tell people what to do and not do it but that’s not real leadership!

    • Exactly bro! Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • This is a fantastic list – I think the points about clarity of communication, involving members of the team and encouraging them to participate and take risks are particularly important – and acting in a way that inspires trust and demonstrates your own credibility. As Matt says, listening is also crucial, but I think that’s implicit in your points about good communication and engagement with the team.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it Sue:) Everything runs smoother when a leader is able to effectively communicate. Thank you for adding to the post.

  • “Encourage the mavericks and go-getters in your group” I love that. it’s a great way to get to new shores.

    • It sure is, thank you for sharing.

  • I think do unto others is an amazing way to inspire as a Leader. If you want to be remembered as one of the greats you should do unto others as you would have them do to you. I think if that is kept in mind you could go a long way as a Leader. People don’t care until they know how much you care.

    • I totally agree Lincoln Parks. It’s an important principle to know and apply. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • I think leaders often forget that they are setting the tone and the expectation of what is required. I know I struggle with this. I assume others are as driven as I am to do well, and forget that I have to establish what the target is.

    • That can be a challenge. I think setting high standard then being a role model of those expectations is essential. Glad to hear your thoughts.

  • I resonated a lot with the points involving resisting to change. I tend to stop making progress as soon as I feel I can be judged or fail miserably and this is something that has been driving me crazy for a while. Little by little I have been starting to overcome the fear of failure but I think right now I’m actually afraid of success.

    I know it may sound weird but I know I can’t fail with what I’m doing right now so all I’m guessing is that it just turned into fear of success.

    • I totally relate with you Sergio. I’m going through the same type of thing. It’s good to know someone else trying to overcome fear and moving toward success. Thank you for sharing.

  • DS

    I believe it doesn’t have to be all trial and error. We can accelerate our learning aside from trial and error by listening to others who’ve been there or who’ve made mistakes.
    “Words into action” is a great mindset and will definitely demonstrate many things to those who work with you.
    Leaders don’t need to worry about a position either. Lead from wherever you are.

    • Great point, I think the best leaders avoid mistakes by listening to those who are wiser and more experienced. It’s true anyone can lead from where they are at, even if they do not have an official title. Thank you for sharing some great insights.

  • Hello Dan,

    For me a true leader is one who always knows his way.

    Leadership is not just guiding people to destination. True leader makes the journey enjoyable and profitable.

    A true leader is like a servant to people. :)

    • Hello Romy,

      Great points, I totally agree:) Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      Looking forward to connecting with you more.

  • I think the communication aspects of a leader is key. You hit the nail on the head, Carl, when you wrote about communicating objectives and goals and missions.

    • I totally agree with you about communication being essential! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.