Effective Leaders Don’t Give Orders—They Give Instructions

May 9, 2014

ID-100100141Some leaders believe that giving constant orders equates to good management. This could not be further from the truth. Unless you are in a crisis situation, you do not have to give orders to get things done. Instead, you can provide instructions and encourage your team to meet goals creatively, helping team members develop their project management skills.

By giving orders to people, you are not giving them any autonomy to think about what to do or how to do it. All they can do is carry out what you have ordered and it may give the impression that you do not trust the employee to handle basic procedures.

The fastest and easiest way of developing your staff is to give them the freedom of coming up with their preferred way of meeting goals. While their solutions may not be the most efficient and may require your supervision, they will appreciate the opportunity to solve goals creatively. There’s also a good chance they will come up with something you had not anticipated. To begin, you should set an expectation of when you want to meet a goal and who should be involved in achieving it.

The best way of encouraging your staff to accomplish goals is to give them a general guide and a specific goal. Then, have them talk with others or outside partners to think of possible solutions. A side benefit of getting your staff involved is that their buy-in and project support increases. In long term and strategic projects, surveys have revealed that people directly involved with the solution are more apt to come up with and defend the optimum solution or plan.

A clear order contains specifics, such as: “I need you to send me the P/L report no later than Friday at 9:00 AM.”  As you can see, there is very little room for someone to say they did not know when you needed it. Instead of providing orders and micromanagement, focus on specific goals.

Instead of saying, “I’d like you to review an analysis of this past month’s sales results,” be more specific. For example, you could say, “Please review an analysis of this past month’s sales results. By Friday morning, I expect your recommendation of the best course of action, what sold and what didn’t sell as well as your opinion on ways to close more business.”

Ineffective managers are not clear about the anticipated outcome they expect. A good manager makes instructions clear and very concise.

Remember—as a leader in your organization, it is all about getting things done through others. And when you give orders to people, you limit their level of learning and creative problem solving. Conversely, when you give instructions, you let people know that they are part of a solution. When your staff is directly involved with the process, they become motivated, look for creative ways to solve problems and possibly even suggest valuable improvements to the process.

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