Think of a time you were all in. Perhaps it was on a sports team, or a cheerleading squad; maybe you were serving as a volunteer in your community; or maybe it was at work. Have you ever considered why you were so fired up? It was no accident.
The source of your engagement can be traced back to a single leader. He or she created the conditions to unleash your very best efforts.
The modern term for what I’m describing is engagement. When Ken Blanchard and I wrote The Secret, engagement hadn’t yet become the buzzword you now all know and use. However, its impact was still very real and great leaders had been managing the engagement of their people for centuries. We describe this practice by saying…
Great leaders engage and develop others.
Before we talk about how to lift the engagement of your people, let’s consider what an engaged team member looks like. For years, I’ve asked leaders to describe them for me. Their responses are surprisingly similar. Here’s what they typically say…
- They ask questions.
- They offer suggestions.
- They work hard.
- They welcome feedback and coaching.
- They care about the work.
- They care about the others on the team.
- They care about the mission.
- They become advocates for the work.
- They show up!
So, here’s your challenge and mine – what if the people we lead don’t exemplify these characteristics – what do we do?
Go back in your mind to the time and place in which you found yourself fully engaged. I’m going to speculate as to why you were all fired up.
You believed in the cause or the work.
You felt valued.
You believed your leader to be trustworthy.
You believed you were making a difference.
You knew if you were winning or losing – someone was keeping score.
You had the skills to do what you’d been asked to do.
You had appropriate levels of autonomy.
You were encouraged along the way.
Your tasks or activities aligned with your talents and strengths.
You were accountable to certain activities or outcomes.
You were listened to because your opinion mattered.
You were getting appropriate levels of feedback on your efforts.
It was fun to be part of whatever you were doing.
Your efforts were acknowledged and appreciated.
This is certainly not a complete list. You can add any items you’d like, but don’t miss the point. If you were all in, many of the items above had to be in place. And if they were, it was no accident. Leaders create the environment in which people willingly invest themselves fully – or we fail to create that environment. When we fail, people may still show up, but they just go through the motions.
Think about the people you lead. Could the description at the beginning of this post be used for them? If so, congratulations! If not, take a look at the list above. You have direct control or significant influence on every item on the list. The same activities that drove your engagement will drive theirs too![GLS_Shield]
Which of these drivers of engagement will you begin to leverage in your world?