Much has changed in the last few months. Now more than ever, REAL Leadership is needed. Leadership has never been more important to ensure organizations move forward positively through the uncharted waters and uncertain environment we are facing. REAL Leadership includes your ability to:
“E” is for Engage
In this segment we focus on Engage. There is plenty of research highlighting how important it is to have engaged employees. Organizations with fully engaged employees experience higher returns, higher profitability, and higher productivity. Organizations want fully engaged employees who think, feel, and act in ways which contribute positively to success. And yet, a 2017 Gallup poll reported that 85% of workers are not engaged in their work. In times like these, it’s more critical than ever to have fully engaged employees who can respond and contribute positively. Exceptional leaders know how important this is, and they recognize it starts with them and how engaging they are as a leader. Then they consistently model behaviours which reinforce this.
What makes an Engaging Leader?
Exhibit Emotional Intelligence: Engaging leaders have high emotional intelligence. They stay attuned to their own emotional stability, and to that of their employees. These leaders keep cool under pressure. They recognize their role is to keep their teams on course and moving forward by anticipating reactions.
Celebrate Uniqueness and Diversity: Engaging leaders recognize employees are unique and can contribute positively to organizational success. They understand a big part of their role is to seek clarity about their employees’ passions and aspirations, about what makes them tick. They create positive environments for learning, growth, and development. They recognize the importance of diversity and they encourage the development of diverse skills. They understand that uniqueness and diversity increase organizational strength and creates more adaptable organizations. Especially valuable attributes in challenging time like these, and a significant competitive edge.
Cultivate Respect: Engaging leaders respect their team members. These leaders believe their teams can and will do their jobs well and will contribute positively to the organization. They reinforce this continuously through encouragement, nurturing and providing opportunities for growth.
Encourage Constructive Challenge: Engaging leaders welcome feedback. They encourage and respect independent thought and creativity. They understand that challenges to the status quo should be welcomed as opportunities for organizational improvement, growth, and development, considering changes the road ahead may present for the organization.
Genuinely Care: Engaging leaders are consistently sincere and authentic. They are genuinely and proactively interested in the well-being of their employees. They recognize their fiduciary responsibility to provide safe workplaces to work and communicate in. Modern employees expect these things and that their best interests will be considered.
Communicate Well: Engaging leaders know when and how to communicate. They can clearly communicate the organization’s purpose and the values it is built on. They help their employees understand how they contribute to the bigger picture and its success.
Take a few moments now to reflect on how you would evaluate yourself on the above six behaviours. What area do you feel strong in? What area would be beneficial for you to improve? How do you think your employees would rate you in these attributes?
Three Actions to Increase Your Ability to “Engage”
There are many actions you can take to increase your ability to “Engage”. But what will make the most immediate difference in this time of uncertainly? What do you need to dial up? Here are three actions you can take right now which will help balance the present and the future.
1. COMMUNICATE THE VALUES OF THE ORGANIZATION.
Clearly define your organization’s values. Model and communicate them to your employees consistently, at every opportunity. This will ensure your employees understand your organization’s “why”. Fully engaged and effective employees understand and align with the organization’s values. They use these values as a compass to guide themselves forward. It motivates their beliefs, their behaviors, and their actions when they understand the “Why”.
2. ENABLE EFFECTIVENESS.
Regularly ask for feedback from your employees (ideally one-on-one meetings, once a month). Ask: What’s working, What’s not? What would enable them to increase their effectiveness? What changes would they recommend? Asking is important; listening and acting is more so. Listen to your employees, recognize their contributions (Engage Respect, Engage Constructive Challenge) and discuss best ways forward. Show them with action you value their input.
3. ENCOURAGE INNOVATION.
Encourage your employees to be innovative, to bring forward new approaches and opportunities, especially now with the shifting landscape and environment in which many businesses find themselves. Encourage them to bring forward unique ideas and talk openly about future possibilities. Ignore job titles, support them to own their ideas and empower them to explore and take those ideas to the next level.
And finally, recognize and report when you see your employees embracing and upholding your organization’s values, when they increase their effectiveness, and when they bring forward innovative ideas. Cheer them on when they succeed and help them up when they falter. As your reward, you’ll see your employees becoming fully engaged, more effective and more productive.
And that makes things better for everyone.
Don’t hesitate to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best and please be safe and healthy!