How will you engage the minds of your employees?

Psychology Skill #2: Lead through Engagement

In previous posts, I talked about three essential leadership skills and the psychology that leaders need to master. The 2nd psychological skill requires engaging the mind and hearts of others.

When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’” ~ Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu (604–531 B.C.), Tao Te Ching

Engaged employees are 22% more productive, according to a new Gallup meta-analysis of 1.4 million employees. They also enjoy double the rate of success, lower absenteeism and turnover, and fewer safety incidents and quality defects.

In an engaged workforce, people want to come to work. They understand their jobs and appreciate how their specific responsibilities contribute to the organization’s overall success.

An effective leader builds integrated teams: knowledge “communities” whose members work together creatively to achieve the desired results. If you expect your people to back initiatives with focus and enthusiasm, develop five essential skills that Dr. Settel describes in his book, CEO Psychology: Who Rises, Who Falls and Why:

  1. Maintain your focus. Don’t lose sight of your personal and organizational goals as you face the everyday onslaught of complex information and technology (yet another reason to retain an executive coach). Ask yourself:
    1. What are my guideposts? My first priorities?
    2. Am I sticking to my path, or am I getting distracted?
  2. Maintain your values and integrity: Regularly assess whether you’ve strayed from your personal and organizational values. Ask yourself:
    1. Am I keeping to principles and standards in spite of pressures and frustrations?
    2. Do I resist the lure of competition and greed?
  3. Effectively prioritize and allocate resources: Keep resources aligned with long-term goals and strategies. Strong voices, from inside and outside the organization, will place conflicting demands on you. Maintain a clear sense of what truly matters in the long run.
  4. Understand your people’s expectations: Subordinates have expectations from important parental figures, including their bosses. They count on your love, support and approval. Understanding these desires makes you a better leader, especially when expectations become irrational.
  5. Serve as a role model: Everything you say and do is magnified and interpreted, often in unintended ways. Your communication and behavior carry weight, influencing others. Employees want to know that you love your work and appreciate their contributions. They closely watch how you handle challenges and achievements, and they will mirror your behavior.

In the work I do coaching executives, we review how well they are engaging their people. Here are a few questions to ask yourself in your work as a leader:

    • How am I engaging my staff?
    • Do the people who work for me appear happy, or do they frequently complain?
    • Do they always ask for more time, resources or money, or can they move forward with what’s provided?
    • Who is generating new ideas? Do I encourage employee participation in planning and strategizing?
    • Can people carry out tasks without direct supervision?
    • Am I sympathetic to, and supportive of, others’ needs and concerns?
    • How resilient am I when faced with setbacks and obstacles? Do I allow my people to help me find creative solutions?
    • Am I generous with positive feedback? Do I frequently recognize progress?

What other questions can you ask to keep engagement fresh? I’d love to hear from you.

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