We know that leaders play a crucial role in organizations. In an organization, there needs to be someone whom we can look up to and the leader fulfills that role. In addition to leading the organization, one of a leader’s default duties is promoting and improving engagement. Because when it comes to employee engagement, there’s not a lot employees can do unless they have engaged leaders who can show them the way.
But how can leadership drive engagement? Isn’t engagement something that falls under the HR department? Not exactly. The second statement is only partially true. Engagement initiatives can be carried out by the HR department but it’s only a leader who can lead the rest with a rallying cry.
As a leader looking to drive engagement, here’s what you should do.
What engages you?
If you want to engage others, you must first be engaged yourself. And in order for that to happen, you need to find out what makes you tick. Engagement comes in many different forms. Leaders can be engaged because they are passionate about the work that they do. Leaders can be engaged because their own values and end goals align with that of the organization’s. Leaders can also be engaged because they are inspired by the work that the organization does and want to be a part of that. How you choose to be engaged is largely a personal choice and is one that you must figure out yourself. When you find out what engages you, you will find it easier to engage others.
Engagement is a trickle-down effect
Engagement begins at the top and trickles down to the rest of the organization. A leader’s engagement can engage senior leaders, who in turn can engage managers, who in turn can engage employees. You cannot expect it to go all the way up from the bottom. Engagement does not work like that. Leaders need to set an example that the rest of the organization can emulate.
Communication and engagement go hand in hand
The more transparent and communicative a leader is, the more engaged employees are. Employees appreciate a leader who makes no bones about admitting mistakes, who admits to not knowing what is going to happen next or honestly discussing the organization’s future. For employees, honesty is not seen as a sign of weakness. However, withholding information will definitely be seen as an act of deceit. The behaviours you model will be the ones your employees model as well. Honesty breeds trust and stability. Deceit on the other hands breeds uncertainty.
Engagement never stops
Engagement is never a one-time effort. It keeps going on. As a leader, you might find that what engages you changing over time. As you keep figuring out what engages you, you will find that how you engage your employees will also change. The most important thing you need to remember about engagement is that though your methods of engagement might change, engagement as a process itself should not stop. It is something that needs to be sustained over a period of time in order for it to gain momentum. When you stop the engagement process, getting your employees engaged once more means you will have to start all over again, from the very beginning.
Walk the talk
You cannot get your senior leaders, managers, and employees to follow you unless you practice what you preach. If you want communication and trust to be an integral part of your organization, then you’ve got to open the lines of communication yourself and show trust. If you want people to give each other better feedback, show them how it’s done. When you set an example as a leader, everyone else will naturally follow!