How important is engaged leadership?
When it comes to relationships, we understand the implications of a certain agreement between two people before marriage. A couple’s engagement tells everyone of their commitment to each other and to the rugged journey of marriage which starts sometime after the honeymoon.
Commitment gets at the heart of what employee engagement is about. The commitment is between you, the “employee”, and involves this rugged journey of “working together”. The honeymoon will last less than six months. (Let’s save that for another time).
As you know, creating a team of responsible, loyal, and dedicated people who keep their word and you can count on is vital to your success. What happens to your world, your business, and your profit when you have an engaged team? What is the affect on customer satisfaction, employee retention, productivity, and profitability?
The reality is this: chronic employee disengagement is costing businesses plenty today. This growing disconnection, detachment, disinterest, and disengagement demands leaders focus on core (soft) skills…people skills.
Last week’s blog could have been entitled: “Leadership Engagement”. We explored four key words associated with engagement:
- Value, and
These core concepts are really about how you, as a leader, engage your people.
Consider a recent Wall Street Journal article in which David Enrich writes about Citigroup’s CEO front runner.
Mr. Medina-Mora has carefully tended his personal image. Several years ago, he hired an assistant to help overhaul his appearance, shed his eyeglasses, bought a wardrobe of expensive suits and started working out with a personal trainer, according to colleagues.
The executive also devoted himself to becoming a better speaker. He carefully rehearses speeches and important phone calls. At employee meetings, Mr. Medina-Mora tends to arrive a few minutes late so his deputies can make sure participants are seated before he enters. He is known for delivering elaborate, intricately choreographed PowerPoint presentations.
“He’s a complete show,” one longtime associate said, “and there’s a whole apparatus behind putting the show together. He prepares for everything.”
This does not discount the value of image, public speaking, and preparation. The question is this: what do the employees want in their new leader, “a complete show” or someone that is engaged with them?
I appreciate Kerry Sulkowicz’s observation when he writes about Mr. Median-Mora and the need for authenticity at the leadership helm of Citigroup.
Will the real Mr. Medina-Mora please stand up?
Your own staff can sniff out an overly orchestrated persona long before the Wall Street Journal writes about it. And, if employees don’t feel that their CEO (or any boss, for that matter) isn’t the real McCoy on a human level, they won’t respond very well. They react with distrust, disengagement, and even despair at the prospect of an automaton at the helm.
Just as children require emotional attunement from real, caring, nurturing adults, employees need something akin to the same from their CEOs. (Emphasis added)
What is the first step toward increased engagement of employees?
How well do you engage your people?
How has the pressure of the economy, the bottom line, and “doing more with less” affected your level of engagement? How are your relationships?
How well do you Connect, Respect, Value, and Raise the Voice of your employees? How effectively are your leaders engaging employees at all levels?
Perhaps a few minutes of reflection on these core skills will pay off…
A good connection with the people in your organization will help you arrive at your destination. Remove the connection to your people and you can forget achieving your desired outcome. How is your capacity to get along with people and connect them to others?
In simplest terms, respect is showing consideration and thoughtfulness to another person. A deep appreciation of others is required for collaboration. Failure to earn the respect of others greatly hinders loyalty and commitment to you and the success of the organization. Would people say your focus is on self or others?
A rigid bottom-line focus makes it is easy to lose sight of the person. Once a person begins to feel viewed like an object, disengagement is sure to follow. Do you care enough to acknowledge the worth and importance of people beyond their usefulness as a human being?
4. Giving Voice
When we connect, respect, and value people enough to listen and notice them as individuals we will not only hear them speak but learn what excites them. How well do you listen? How well do you know the strengths of your team? How open are you to their input? How well do your create opportunity for them to use their strengths?
The good news is this: step one is in your control, it is about how you and your leadership team engage your people.
For personal reflection:
What core, people skill have you identified as one to give attention to?
How will you sharpen this skill?
What do you think?
Please encourage the discussion by posting your thoughts.