How 'Elevator' Leaders Lift Everyone to Higher Achievement

Part of leading people is learning where they dream of going.

learn more about Marty Fukuda

By Marty Fukuda

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

An "elevator" leader takes you to heights you would not reach on your own. A leader is truly impactful only when both the individual and team achieves more than they would have without his or her guidance.

"Elevators" are one of those rare breeds that not only see productivity beyond the expected; they also elevate every nuance of their team, including happiness. They make big things happen through actions that drive their teams upward. Workers don't simply produce more; they likewise enjoy every step of the process, which is critical for sustainability.

Elevators form the foundation of great organizations. Here are three ways to start your path towards being this brand of leader:

Believe in people.

People need confidence to succeed. When someone believes in us, we naturally want to justify that belief. We will work a little harder, try one more time and overall give a little extra. Sharing your belief in another is one of the most powerful motivators known to mankind.

I once heard it suggested that if all leaders just walked around their office all day reciting the phrases, "You can do it" and "I believe in you," productivity would skyrocket. While we all know leading others isn't quite that simple, the main point is still powerful. If you genuinely believe in someone, share it, and then watch as they soar.

Take the journey with them.

In the movie, "Up in the Air," there's a line in which George Clooney's character says, "Everyone needs a co-pilot." As a leader, you can't ride along on every sales call or physically work with your team all the time, but you can always be with them in spirit. A leader needs to celebrate each success, console each defeat, support during adversity and stay grounded during a winning streak. Understand that your team will go through an emotional roller coaster during the year and be there, as their co-pilot, biggest cheerleader and rock to lean on.

To truly journey with your team, you must be a consistent presence. If a daily visit or update isn't possible or reasonable, make sure, nonetheless, to go above-and-beyond the expected. In other words, don't just check in before a big deadline or during a scheduled conference call. To ensure you won't get too busy or forget to do this, put a reminder in your calendar a few times a month.

Get permission to push for a little more.

Personal trainers always asks for one more set or another repetition. The good ones talk with you prior to the first workout to review your fitness goals, build rapport and establish an understanding that they will help you reach your goals by pushing you further than you would push yourself. If your trainer pushes you without knowing what you want or establishing that vital connection, it's just someone yelling. That likely will cause you to work out less, not more.

As a leader, your job is to drive the team past its comfort point of achievement. Like the personal trainer, this requires knowing your targets and establishing a rapport. Once you've established the goal, ask for the team members' permission to hold them accountable and push them to get there. If you have a sincere rapport and the goals are theirs -- not just yours -- your team will welcome you helping them achieve their vision.

An elevator leader believes in the team, supports them and challenges them. Do an effective job of all three and you'll take your people to levels they never would have reached without you.

Marty Fukuda

Chief Operating Officer of N2 Publishing

Chicago native Marty Fukuda is the chief operating officer of N2 Publishing, overseeing operations at its corporate headquarters in Wilmington, N.C. He first joined the company as an area director in 2008 after working in the direct sales and print industries. 

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