Achieving an engaged and empowered team has been the Achilles’ heel for enlightened organizations trying to climb out of the vestiges of command & control management. Leaders are told of the benefits of the engaged workforce, but it seems distant and unattainable. Each leader views the role with the lens of their own personality and the accumulated experience developed through exposure to other leaders, both good and bad, throughout their life. Considering the breadth of variable inputs derived from the individual leadership experience and personality, how can any leader achieve an engaged and empowered team?
Build a Connection to Inspire
Your team needs to understand what you value and know that they matter to you… genuinely. When you care about the individual hopes, dreams, and families of your team, they can see it. Don’t pretend. No one will be inspired by a disingenuous gesture. This will lead to active disengagement and no place you’d want to be. But, when you speak from the heart, your team can connect with you. This opens the door to cast the vision for the future, lay out the mission and inspire them to own their role in the future vision for your organization.
Just as leaders enter their role as the sum of their experiences, so do team members. Everyone is joining with a specific skill set, strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, they have different hopes and dreams. Not everyone desires to be a leader and others can’t imagine being anything but. While you’re building a connection, it’s important to learn about their hopes and dreams; where do they want to go in their career? The biggest demonstration of your sincerity is to create the opportunities for career development for current or future roles.
When the organization is steeped in the remnants of command and control management, it will require moments where you say, “I trust you to make the right decision.” By the time you’re having this conversation, you both should know where the guardrails are. This would have been preceded by a period of making the decision together so they understand what your inputs are and when they should reach out and consult vs. moving ahead. Eventually, let go.
Servant leadership stands out above all other leadership styles in the pursuit of workplace utopia because it “has a positive relationship with organizational citizenship behavior, job performance and staying with the organization” (DuBrin, 2010), it has its foundation in ethical values, and moves the organization forward to realize its goals. “Empowerment, authenticity, stewardship and providing direction” (van Dierrendonck & Patterson, 2014) define Servant Leadership. Only Servant Leaders “focus on the employee first, then on the talents of the employee, and lastly on how this benefits the organization” (van Dierrendonck & Patterson, 2014).
Initially, employees join the organization for the promise of a great future at work. They’re here, now what? People need boundaries, accountability, empowerment, inspiration and a vision. Most of all, they need to feel valued. When they’re truly engaged, they stay because their leader has made a connection and inspired them. So, willingly, they adopt the vision, the mission and join the tribe.
Have you ever been inspired, engaged and truly empowered at work?
Cross posted: www.linkedin.com/in/CariRay-MSML
DuBrin, A. J. (2010). Leadership (7th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western/Cengage.
van Dierrendonck, D., & Patterson, K. (2014, February 13). Compassionate Love as a Cornerstone of Servant Leadership: An Integration of Previous Theorizing and Research. Journal of Business Ethics, 128, 119-131. doi:10.1007/s10551-014-2085-z