Leaders lead by not giving orders

I had a wonderful opportunity to attend a workshop of a Chevening Scholar of University of Oxford in my obscure little town. He spoke about attaining operative excellence through effective leadership. The crux of his talk was this:

Leaders lead by not giving an order to their employees but by giving them an intent

This piece of wisdom dramatically shifted the paradigm of my thought processes. An order is a scripted and, to a certain extent, regimented instruction. The very nature of straight-forwardness of an order leaves little room for an employee to accommodate his original thought or creativity. In the long run, employees will be highly dependent upon their leader for every decision-making activity.

On the other hand, when a leader communicates an intent or a purpose, employees recognize an opportunity wherein they need to actively contribute. The passivity of blindly following orders is replaced by an active objective to fruitfully contribute to the final purpose. People work harder when they perceive that their skills or opinions make an impact in attaining a certain goal.

I have started implementing this piece of wisdom in my day to day activities. So far, it has been a uphill task. The task of effectively communicating your purpose to your employees and trying to keep them on track without micro-managing their activities is very challenging. But I hope that one day I will be able to master this particular piece of wisdom of effective leadership.