To be a leader worth following

If leadership was all about monitoring who is working and firing those who don't, there would not be much leading to do. Leaders need to inspire people to motivate themselves.

Saqib Omer Saeed August 05, 2010
The biggest problems exists in leadership and people rather than any other aspect of a business enterprise.

Organisations usually try to sort out opportunities in their productivity and profitability but the real growth lies in attitudes. Organisations try to assess problems in their processes, machines, markets and technology but the biggest source of problem are the people. Weak top managers and decision makers fail to fire those who are not working. They cannot assess whom has the potential to work or not. If they are not working why aren't they doing so? If leadership was all about monitoring who is working and firing those who are not - there would not be much leading to do.

Sometimes we have to see why employees are not working. One reason could be that they don’t know how to work. If this is a technical issue it can be resolved by training. But if they don’t want to work then leaders have to understand why they don’t want to work. Is the employee indifferent? Do they feel their task is unimportant?

Its not about you, its about me

Sometimes business leaders or the leaders in social situations try to influence people by their knowledge, skills and expertise. But most leaders don’t realise that subordinates don’t care about how much their bosses know and what they are capable of - what they do care about is how much their leaders or bosses care about them. This is the business of relationships and you are not a leader if you are unable to maintain relations with the people in your company.

I have experienced serious attitude problems when senior management or decision makers assigned targets to a sales or marketing team. The mistake that a majority of decision makers make is assigning universal targets; instead they should have assessed each worker and his limitations.

We are not willing to see why some employees break records and others break themselves.

It is obvious that everyone in our team wants to be successful. You will hardly ever find a person who joins your company to become a failure. Unfortunately, the role of the Human Resource Departments in our corporate culture is dynamically clerical. They respect material aspects of the company as they would human beings and they throw people who fail away.

The motivation game

In the name of motivation companies try to organise lectures to motivate employees. I am sorry but no one can motivate people. It is inspiration that motivates. The best motivator for a person is no one but himself. Leaders just need to give him an opportunity to think. We have to build self-confidence in our people. We have to promote their initiatives by declaring ourselves responsible for their mistakes. This is leadership.

You can send your employees to motivation lectures but once they come back and find you have an attitude problem - it is not their problem but yours. So, as a leader you need to inspire people to motivate themselves. This can be done by a smile, sitting with them, proving that you are their partner in success.

Motivation ends with the letters 'ation' that lead to action. People have to act themselves to do something that enlarges their self esteem. You have one role to play as a leader which is to provide enough support so they can act. Inspire them and that will work. And if you take credit for their achievements, then you should also be ready to accept their failures in gentle manner. Leaders have a responsibility to rectify and note what people can do better to avoid failures.

Fear factor

I believe that most employees have ideas for their company. The real problem is fear of doing it wrong. Leaders need to work this fear factor off. This cannot be eradicated if leaders themselves are incapable of developing contingency management plans for their employee’s initiatives and innovation. Inspiration boosts thinking and once people think that is the only thing that can change behavior. Any efforts to improve an individual's performance that hinders his/her thinking process cannot be successful.

If your superiority is subject to making others feel inferior your employees will let you down. If you think that you can lift yourself up by pulling others down - you are going in wrong direction. Leadership is for those with the biggest of hearts. Egos can do nothing but destroy teamwork. If a team is the best way to accomplish class jobs then the biggest problems teams face across the globe are attitudinal problems.

A corporate facade

The major issue in our corporate culture is artificial sophistication in presentation and pathetic attitudes in reality. We like our annual report to say that we have the following corporate values but we even don’t know what values mean. Companies where performances, profitability and productivity is going down need to scan their people and their leadership. They have to see the grievances, fears and hesitations of their employees. Research may be conducted on what is going wrong by hiring consultants but most leaders never take the time to sit and listen to their own people - the people who know best about the affairs of the company.

These leaders have to step up. People working in the company have to be considered the prime source of goodwill, profitability and productivity.
Saqib Omer Saeed A financial researcher, analyst and adjunct faculty in CBM, SZABIST, BIZTEK & University of Karachi and blogs at
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Maliha | 13 years ago | Reply very nice article sir! thumbs up =)
Sahar | 13 years ago | Reply Why would a leader want to motivate employees? Then they would become good. Then they would challenge his authority. Then they could move ahead of him. Lets keep everyone in their places.
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ