What is a Leader? What Motivates People?
What Is a Leader?
A common definition of a leader is “A leader is a person who influences a group of people towards the achievement of a goal.” In the Ubuntu Community we have many wonderful people who voluntarily take on the roles and responsibilities to become a leader; those individuals who give selflessly of their time, talent and treasure are known as the leadership throughout our community. Whether it’s on one of the many councils, boards, teams, or projects they lead; they are leaders! (Thank you all for taking on those roles – you are appreciated and you matter!)
Ubuntu Leadership Team
Maybe I am a little bias, but I think the Ubuntu Community is one of the best FOSS communities one can participate in. Low barrier to entry without lowering the standards of the project. Any one can participate and many choose to become leaders. One of the goals of the newly formed Ubuntu Leadership team is to inspire people to be come better leaders by offering the community learning opportunities that aren’t required, but are there should people chose to utilize them. Any one can be a boss – ever been around a 2 year old they can boss people around all day long, but they aren’t leaders yet! Some people are natural leaders, but for the majority of us humans we require a little training and I think that’s the least we can offer those individuals in the community who want to become better and more effective leaders is a little training.
Right now the team is just getting started, so we are gathering resources, updating ones that have already been started and looking for ways to encourage current and new leaders as well as those considering becoming leaders in the community. We’d like to hear from you so please let us know the following:
- What you wished someone had told you when you agreed to become a leader?
- What areas of leadership would you like to learn more about?
- What formats would you like the information presented in (ie online tutorial, video casts, podcast, blogs etc)?
- What challenges you face as leaders?
- What skills you’d like to improve upon?
- As well as any other feedback related to leadership you would like to give us?
We now have a few team resources such as, a mailing list, irc channel, wiki page, meeting time, launchpad team, and as more ways to join the team and participate are added we’ll be updating the team and the community as well.
The goal is to blog once a week about various leadership topics. In this blog post I want to talk about ways to motivate people.
Motivating People Skills
Know what motivates the people you lead – some people are motivated by social acceptance, others are ego-driven, so are following their dreams and goals and still others are financially motivated (yes even people who volunteer can be motivated my monetary gains because what they learn through their volunteer efforts has the potential to increase their paychecks) – in other words find out how you can give the people you lead a motivational paycheck that won’t bounce.
Believe in the people you are leading – People know when you truly believe in them; they also know when you don’t. Everyone who joins a project, team, group, tries something new, faces new fears. If their leaders believe in them they will more than likely face those fears and become a greater success because they know that their leadership and team through the example of its leader(s) believe in them. They won’t fear failure but believe in themselves more because you as their leader sincerely believes in them and their abilities.
Make the people you lead feel important – Who doesn’t like being told they are doing a good job. If you want to motivate people then you have to appreciate them–sincerely appreciate them. Don’t just tell them what they want to hear, people know when you are being false and they will resent you for it, but if you as a leader sincerely appreciate them, then it will motivate them even more. Send out thank you notes, encouraging messages to the team, point out the efforts of those who are making a difference. It doesn’t matter how large or small the contribution to the team is make sure you let people know they are important and they matter!
Lead your followers by example – When I was being trained to be a leader in Army as well as a manager and director for various corporate positions my best leaders and managers were those that lead by example. In other words they taught me never ask someone you lead to do something that you haven’t done, aren’t willing to do, or aren’t willing to learn. Stay motivated and ready to jump in and help if your team needs you, your excitement and motivation will rub off and if you are a good example then people will want to follow you – however the same holds true for negativity if you are a negative leader your team will become a negative force as well.
Don’t put requirements on your team members instead inspire them – Think about it, as a leader you want to be the inspiration that people are looking for. Be the change you want to see, lead by example, make people feel important and believe in them. If you do those things you will inspire team members to take action. Inspiration motivates people from within themselves if you require people they begin to feel they have to accomplish something for you or the team rather than wanting to accomplish something for themselves and the greater good of the whole team.
(Adapted from Proven Ways to Motivate People)