In boardrooms across the country, leadership engagement commonly takes a back seat to employee engagement, but it’s no less important to the success of an organization. Engaged leaders are better able to inspire confidence, instill passion and motivate team members to accomplish their goals.
That makes it critical for your organization to invest the time and resources needed to enhance the engagement between your leaders and the rest of your organization.
Leadership engagement is critical to the success of high-functioning organizations. Engaging leaders are better equipped to instill a shared sense of purpose and mission to all members of the organization, making them feel like they have a unique part to play in its wider objectives.
But leadership engagement is facing a crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the way most companies do business, decentralizing their organizations into individualized hybrid units spread across the country and, in many cases, the world. The task of engaging leaders at all levels of the organization has never been more challenging, and it’s also never been more important. The pandemic will eventually subside (believe it or not), but many of the changes to business that have taken place in the meantime are here to stay.
That means it’s critical for the leader to transcend digital bounds to engage employees wherever they happen to work, all to make their organizations more cohesive and point them in the same direction.
Many organizations today prioritize employee engagement, and for good reason. One study from Gallup found that highly engaged teams are 17% more productive. The problem, however, is that leadership engagement and employee engagement aren’t exactly the same thing, and many companies pay too little attention to the former. Successful organizations require engaged leadership, and without giving equal focus to the development of leadership teams, that can have serious long-term consequences for the organization as a whole.
Technology greatly enhances any leader’s ability to engage with the organization at large. Solutions and platforms that optimize workflows, for example, make it easier to outline and detail responsibilities and expectations, measure each individual’s contributions and instill a greater sense of accountability.
Digital tools are especially critical in post-pandemic hybrid and virtual workplaces. Videoconferencing helps make employees feel more engaged with their leaders and the organization, helping to limit the excesses of digital fatigue, which can seriously erode engagement. Leaders should embrace the latest technologies to ensure maximum engagement at all levels of the organization.
Another one that is especially important in the hybrid work business world — it’s important for leaders to maintain open lines of communication between themselves and their team members. Employees need to feel like they can communicate with managers in an open and honest setting in order to feel like their concerns are heard and their needs are met.
One of the ways leaders can do this is by holding frequent — even daily, in some instances — one-on-one meetings with team members to give them the chance to communicate directly in a private setting. Not only does this help maintain a healthy flow of conversation, it also gives employees a sense that they have ready access to management.
One of the most effective ways to strengthen bonds between leadership and team members is by building personal relationships. Leaders should consider hosting happy hours, team dinners or other recreational activities to bond with team members in a nonprofessional setting.
Strong personal relationships can contribute to productive working relationships, helping employees feel a greater sense of accountability to their work and the people on their team. This can create tighter workplace bonds, which can drastically enhance the overall team’s performance.
All leaders are different, but there are a number of skills that the leaders of the most engaged teams share. Here are a few of them:
- Be a part of the team: People don’t like leaders who sit back, direct orders from the top and leave the grunt work to the rest of the team. One of the most powerful ways for leaders to inspire trust and cultivate a shared sense of community is to be willing to get down and lead from the front.
- Effective communication: Communication is the glue that binds engaged teams together. Leaders need to be able to clearly communicate their mission and goals to all levels of the organization, while at the same time communicating constructive feedback and offering praise when it’s due.
- Accountability: A shared sense of responsibility is critical to the success of an organization. It’s important that leaders communicate clear expectations at the very beginning to ensure everyone knows where they fit in the bigger picture. It’s also important to have a system of rewards to encourage progress toward goals.
- Emotional intelligence: Leaders who are capable of developing personal bonds with members of their teams are more effective at building trust and creating a sense of passion between employees and the wider organization. They understand their team members on a deeper level, which helps them better respond to their needs and set them up for success.
It’s important to establish a series of key performance indicators to assess your leadership engagement. Among some of the most common (and effective) KPIs include:
- Employee retention: People want to work for good leaders. How well you’re able to attract and retain talent is one of the useful ways to quantify your leadership team’s engagement level.
- Employee satisfaction: Companies should conduct regular surveys to determine employee satisfaction. While satisfaction scores have a number of different factors, engaged leadership is certainly one of them.
In addition to the above KPIs, companies should also consider conducting specific leadership engagement surveys. Asking questions like, “How effective is X at communicating?” or “How respected do you feel by leaders and other co-workers?” can yield a general sense of your leadership team’s engagement.
Improving leadership engagement isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. At The Bailey Group, our team of leadership coaches understands that every organization and leadership team is different. That’s why we pay special attention to each of our clients’ specific needs and goals to build a training program that’s fit for them.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.