Six Ways To Act Like a Leader And Communicate Like a Friend

The spirit of friendship can be the spark that lights the fire of motivation.

As I said last week, you CAN motivate others. All you have to do is ACT LIKE A LEADER.

Of course, you may be saying, “Just a minute. I’m not a leader, or manager, or supervisor. I’m not even a team leader. I don’t have a title. I’m just a part of the crew. I don’t have the power to do some of the things you outlined in last week’s Tip.”

That may be true. But the best definition of leadership is influence, and you do influence those around you. You can do most–if not all–of the six things I outlined. You can ACT LIKE A LEADER or exert leadership no matter what position you hold.

You can also COMMUNICATE LIKE A FRIEND. People are, after all, motivated by those who make them feel good.

It’s like the story Ellie shared. She talked about two men she had dated, liked, and considered marrying, but finally had decided on James. She told her friend, “When I was with Michael, I thought he was the most wonderful person in the world.”

Her friend said, “I’m confused. If Michael was so wonderful, why didn’t you marry him? Why did you choose James?”

“Because,” Ellie said, “when I was with James, he made me feel like I was the most wonderful person in the world.”

Of course, you may not be “friends” with your coworkers. You don’t have to be. But if you use the six ways of communicating like a friend, you’ll go even further in motivating them.

And if you really want to master the skills of motivation, pick up a copy of my audio CD entitled, “MOTIVATION: 10 Best Ways To Bring Out The Best In Others.”


That’s not always easy to do. It seems more natural to judge someone’s behavior and try to change it.

Acceptance, on the other hand, communicates respect. It tells the other person that she is valued just the way she is. She is welcome to be herself.

Strangely enough, when that happens, when acceptance is communicated, the other person doesn’t feel content to stay the way she is. Acceptance liberates her potential and turns on her desire to improve. Dr. Blaine Lee says, “You can’t change people with mega doses of information. People change themselves after mini doses of acceptance from people who care. Acceptance is harder to give than advice…but infinitely more valuable.”


Whenever you hear someone use the “just” word, say something. Don’t let people get away with minimizing themselves, saying “I’m just a secretary…or…I’m just a worker…or…I’m just a…” whatever.

Thomas H. Haggai put it well. He wrote, “The president of a giant corporation may be recognized as important, but the job cannot be done without the shelves you stock, the cloth you weave, the wood you finish, the sale you make, the machinery you build, the smile you give a new customer. The company cannot survive without people like you.”

3. And when colleagues are important, and when you communicate like a friend, you ASK FOR THEIR INPUT.

You make them a real part of the team by asking them what they think, listening to their responses, and following through whenever possible. That’s what Ameritech did.

At Ameritech, a few of their corporate people traveled from office to office to hold up one report at a time. By simply asking, “Do you need this report?” and listening to their colleagues’ responses, they eliminated six million pages of unnecessary reports.

At Ritz Carlton Hotels, employees are allowed to spend up to $2000 to do whatever it takes to resolve a customer complaint–right on the spot–no questions asked. That’s communicating like a friend. You ask for and trust their input.

4. So ask for their input and LISTEN.

It’s impossible to show caring if you don’t take the time to listen to your coworkers. And many people–unfortunately–are poor listeners.

While someone else is talking, poor listeners write memos, enter computer data, or look at their watches. Poor listeners change the subject or take another phone call in the midst of your conversation. And whether intentional or not, such actions always communicate disrespect. They send the message that “I care more about my activities than I do about you.”

In today’s fast-paced world, everyone is pressed for time. Your coworkers know that. So if you take time to really listen, to do nothing but totally concentrate on them while they’re speaking, you’ve given a powerful affirmation that can’t help but motivate them.

It’s just one of the many skills I teach in my program on “PEAK PERFORMANCE: Motivating the Best in Others.”


Saying one thing and doing another show a blatant disregard for people’s feelings. Friends don’t do that to each other.

People seldom if ever forget a promise. It is not good enough to tell someone, “I’m sorry. I forgot.” It doesn’t build trust, and it doesn’t show caring. Even if you have to write down every promise, do it, and keep that paper until you have followed through on every promise.


That’s what friends do. No one ever said work couldn’t be fun or shouldn’t be fun. Quite the opposite. There’s lots of evidence that suggests fun, spirit-filled organizations have employees who work harder and stay longer. They also have happier customers.

Start by doing some things just for the fun of it. Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is the self-proclaimed “Master of Joy.” His mission is “the relentless pursuit of joy in the workplace.” Whether it’s a “Clash Dressing Day,” or a “Third Shift Italian Meal and Music” event, they’re going to have fun, and they’re going to make money. Not a bad combination.

Unfortunately, in many companies, the fun is gone. In fact, many managers are guilty of growling, “Okay, we’ve had enough fun around here. It’s time to get back to work.” Somehow in their minds, excellence, productivity, profitability, and fun are incompatible. But they’re wrong. The evidence is quite clear that employees are more motivated when they’re having fun while they work.


I remember talking to the foreman in charge of a huge crucible of molten brass. It was heated to 2200 degrees while waves of heat were coming from it. The foreman put a shield over his face and hands, seized a huge sledge, and said, “Want to see something?” He swung with all of his might, beating against the crucible. It didn’t even phase it. He made a small dent at most.

Of course, I asked the obvious question, “Why can’t you break it? He said, “Because it’s hot and that makes it tougher. But come with me.”

He showed me another crucible. It was exactly the same except this one was cold. He took a little hammer and gave the crucible a small tap. The crucible broke into a hundred pieces.

“Why did it break?” I wondered. He answered, “Because it is cold and the cohesive strength has gone out of it.”

What is true of this crucible is also true of people. Keep them fired up and motivated, and they will absorb life’s blows. But if you let the spirit go out of them, even little blows will crack them. All you’ve got to do to keep them fired up and motivated is to ACT LIKE A LEADER and COMMUNICATE LIKE A FRIEND.

Action:  Write down the six ways you can COMMUNICATE LIKE A FRIEND. And then grade yourself on each of the six behaviors, giving yourself an A, B, C, D, or F.

On any item that you score less than a B, write down three things you can do to improve in that area. Carry that paper around with you for the next month. And every time you do one of your new, improved behaviors, put a star next to that item on your paper. Try to get 25 stars by the end of the month.

You’ll feel better, but better yet, you’ll notice a significant, motivating impact on the people around you.