Leadership Starts with Engagement
Employees seek meaningful relationships with their managers. By this we do not mean becoming pals. That could happen, but isn’t necessary: Employees value a great working relationship built on trust and transparency of communication. Plus recognition of work well done, of course!
We know from our own work with clients that the greatest source of truly effective employee engagement comes from the employee’s direct supervisor, whether that supervisor is the CEO, a vice president or the shift supervisor. Direct praise from a manager can be twice as effective as stock options in motivating employees, according to Achievers, an employee recognition vendor. This is great news, especially as most businesses don’t have stock options to give out, even if they could afford them! Plus, praise makes the giver feels as good as the recipient.
Better Engagement = Higher Productivity (We guarantee it!)
A productive corporate culture grows out of a commitment to full engagement. If you pay attention to fostering strongly engaged employees, you will naturally create a positive, productive workplace. The mission and values of the organization come from the top, but how that mission is accomplished, and how the values are propagated, is in the hands of those employees. The better you engage your staff, the better a culture they will build for you. Achievers asserts that investing in the 100 Best Companies to work for consistently yields a larger return than the overall market—larger, even, than investing in the S&P 500.
How does a business leader build engagement? We focus on three areas in our work with clients, which form the core of our Foundations of Excellence employee development philosophy:
Emphasize Communication that Counts
Communicate with your employees openly, honestly, and often. Don’t shield your employees from news of business issues or challenges—they should hear the truth from you, rather than rumors through the grapevine. This include honest and constructive reviews of their (and your) performance!
Build Unshakable Trust
Keep your promises. Only make promises you can keep. Understand that people follow you largely because you promise to make their lives better professionally. Act on that promise every day! Model behavior that you wish to see from your followers. Be consistent and even-handed in both criticism and praise. Recognize effort even if unsuccessful. Reward great results with public praise as well as perks.
Commit to the Pursuit of Truth
Never shoot a messenger! Challenge assumptions you base on your experience, because your experience may be out of touch with today’s marketplace, or even your own work environment. Value fresh perspectives. Understand that your role is not to know everything, but to seek the truth through your people’s work. Set reasonable goals based on marketplace realities, not just a random 15% added to last year’s numbers (for instance).
To become a transformational leader, you need to transform yourself, then help your team transform itself into a highly motivated group of people contributing at a high level. The Foundations of Excellence provide a blueprint for achieving that goal.
What do you think? Have we captured the core elements of leadership excellence? How would you describe the key aspects of your leadership style?