If there’s one thing that is scary to many companies, it’s change. Dealing with change requires leadership at all levels if that company is to survive the turbulent wave of uncertainty and misdirection that change brings. Leading in adversity amidst constant change requires focus, commitment, and a well-tuned internal and moral compass to know which way is ‘right’
So what really motivates employees?
Let’s begin by defining engagement as the “positive emotional connection an employee has to their work and their workplace.” In short, caring about work leads to commitment and wanting to give more than is required or expected.
More than simply “satisfaction”, employee engagement is a positive emotional connection to the work they do and a “thinking connection” to the belief in the goals, purpose and mission of that work. Employees want to feel proud, feel enjoyment, feel support, but more than that, they want to believe that their work matters, that they contribute, and that it resonates their values.
One challenge leaders face is making sure their people’s voices are heard. If people feel as if opportunity eschews them then they will immediately take themselves off the playing field and the leader will lose support.
When focusing on engagement, it is important to understand who in the organisation is really ready and who may need some help moving forward. During times like these, a certain pattern of behavior sets into many organisations.
Generally, the leaders creating strategy are living in the future, concentrated on indicated trends six months out. They are looking at the next quarter’s timeframe. Workers primarily function in the present, concentrated on accomplishing the key tactics of the day to day. Many workers find it difficult to shift into the mindset of future strategy and need time to process.
As a leader, it is your job to educate the entire organisation, from top down, clearly identifying the path ahead. The challenge is to continue to move forward, with your employees feeling more than just clear and confident about the strategy and direction, but also excited and invigorated about the potential. As a leader in today’s business environment, you are in the energy business, the human energy business. You are called to build a sense of engagement, helping employees realise the growth potential for the organisation, the team, and themselves.
How can you be successful in leading an engaged organisation?
Below I have listed four key areas that can begin the process to increase your own leadership effectiveness and create a culture that works best for your organization.
1. Leading Oneself. It all starts with you. You need to lead yourself before you can lead others.
2. Leading Others: One to One. The skills you use to facilitate the individual growth of others often are regarded as foundational, such as communication skills, goal setting, and delegating.
3. Leading Teams: One to Group. In addition to one-to-one skills, leaders need to lead and inspire individuals to work effectively together and achieve results as a team.
4. Leading a Work Culture. The act of leading a work culture is distinct from the other levels.
Finally, when leaders move toward improving their observable behaviors, they have the extraordinary ability to positively influence employees to willingly become engaged. That’s a powerful investment that pays dividends not only in developing good people, but by directly affecting the organisation’s bottom line.
Sam Walton once said:
“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”