Can You Afford To Ignore Engagement

“Because you recognize business wisdom doesn’t come with job titles…”

Engagement is not about getting married. Smart business leaders understand that they must evangelize and inspire their colleagues to get the most out of their team. Engagement therefore, is fostered with trust and open exchange. The truth of the matter is leaders and particularly managers find the art of engagement difficult.

Engagement demands dialogue, participation, and connecting. Most managers feel uncomfortable with this process. They believe that it questions their authority and that people will think less of them. These individuals couldn’t be more wrong. Business wisdom and strategic planning do not come with job titles. They come with experience and more importantly an innate understanding of human values and behavior. You cannot learn this in grad school. Nor can you master this subject by reading academic journals or professional reports.

So, if something is missing, where can we learn to empathize and tap the source of engagement? Inside the human heart. To find out more, search this space and uncover what motivates you to succeed, thrive, and prosper in any environment. This process is quite difficult. It takes you out of your comfort zone because it personalizes your decisions and how you interact with colleagues. It makes you responsible.

“When you love to samba…”

Managers feel more comfortable crunching numbers, acting as policy wonks, and base every decision on what they term, the concrete data. If you walk this path of conventional wisdom, you will only reveal your lack of empathy and never succeed in getting your colleagues to engage. Grad school is partly to blame for this persistent behavior and the corporate world only serves to reinforce these attitudes for keen players who wish to make it to the top.

To illustrate this point, we know someone by the name of Bibi. That’s not his real name. He works in finance at an investment firm and his job is to get the clients he handles to make as many trades as possible during a week. Bibi is good at his job and he’s serious about his work. He manages four people, who handle a lot of his research. The overall environment is insanely competitive. Yet his job brief also states that he must coach his junior colleagues. He is uncomfortable with this because rather than see his team as individuals fighting for the same cause, he sees them as an internal threat.

Then the unthinkable happens. One of the team members got pissed after work and crashed his motorcycle skidding off the road. The team was devastated. Under his shell, Bibi realized that he was too hard on everyone at the office. Despite what senior supervisors might think, he decided to take the initiative and do something about this. He got his team together outside the office and they talked about their feelings, their expectations, and what really mattered to them. In their young faces, he could see himself. He rediscovered in his heart what it meant to aspire, be different, be successful yet still show his humanity.

When he discussed this issue with us, I realized that he had begun to tap the real meaning of leadership and to act as a mentor with dignity. It was a challenge, but his team members noticed he was no longer the same man. They went to the hospital and visited their injured colleague. Empathy was no longer a word in a dictionary. It had become an action plan.

Why does it take a crisis to make certain leaders or managers face up to the fact that we are all human beings with real feelings and dreams? The corporate world can be a rather brutish place. But it doesn’t have to be. The blue print for business can incorporate financial gain with those softer values we all cherish. It’s a matter of engagement, commitment and caring. Our experience has shown that if your employees or colleagues are unhappy at work, results suffer. Worse, everyone is demoralized and either they injure themselves or they leave as soon as they can.

Core motivation is built with passion. But passion can only be fostered when people love what they do. This can only happen when they are engaged and given positive incentives. So what in your view is the best way forward based on your experience as a business leader? How positive are you in the work place?

Join the conversation. Let us know how you engage.

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at CAREO, a career management consultancy under the WCW Group brand.

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Visit: CAREO

Why Innovative Leadership Shakes The World

“When you have your audience by the tail feather…”

Good management focuses on evaluation and performance. Innovative leadership “gently shakes the world”.

To find out, what makes great leaders v. mediocre managers, I chaired a seminar on business leadership. Participants chose to discuss CEOs for their charisma, accountability, and legacy. Many of these leaders are known throughout the world, and are role models. They are admired for their accomplishments at work and contributions to their societies.

Every participant agreed that leadership is more than just posting good quarterly results. Best of all, the leadership traits we value, can be learned and mastered.

“Because leadership demands you change your prescription…”

Often the most neglected leadership skills stem from not understanding emotional intelligence. They are intuitive. Take for example, the issue of motivation. How can you get staff to reach beyond their limits? It is a question of encouragement.

Some managers just focus on mistakes made. Why drive errors into a state of culpability? Innovative leadership points out mistakes. It is called constructive criticism. Remember, nobody sets out to fail. The best corporate cultures build initiative and mentorship into their working practices.

However in risk-averse environments, team players remain cautious. They never step out of the box. They do not want to be penalized. Senior management can be so hard pressed for bottom line results that they establish a set of “red line” rules. Such rules never generate effective results.

Managerial intentions should be clear. Resolve issues when they arise so that they do not become handicaps. Benchmarking milestones should keep most projects on track. This is the hallmark of nurturing innovative leadership.

The Roving Electron Theory
Call this procedure “detection and resolution”. Negative thinking patterns will alter the ambiance in any work environment. Cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset where individuals are praised when it is deserved can reverse this process. Corporate culture can sometimes be debilitating. Why not inculcate aspirational values rather than despair?

Ever notice that negativity is contagious? One colleague of mine referred to this dilemma as that of the roving electron.

A roving electron is a concept from physics. By nature it is unpredictable. Because it can not be controlled, it generates positive or negative outcomes. From an organizational standpoint, you can see why weak leadership would fear such individuals. For example, if someone suggests trying out a new idea, the typical response is: “That is not the way we do things at Yoyo Inc.”

Firms that nurture this psychosis become hidebound and sclerotic. New is seen as threatening to the power structure. Creative talent will run away from such organizations. Problems under these conditions do not dissipate. They only expand in equal proportion to the negative “cannot do” environment.

Real business leadership knows that positive practices are the right way forward. Under this form of stewardship, optimism and gratitude prevail as the key elements of team building practices. The leader’s vision should be to embody and feed the collective creative spirit with the right thinking. It gives the group understanding, value and purpose. By doing so, you will be able to taste the spirit of engagement.

Please note however, that leaders do critique. They do so with an eye to positive growth not to chastise. The acknowledgment of errors is important. Then, the group moves on. Why? Because they know that there is a shared sense of objectives. The positive aura can be felt. Everyone recognises that whatever his or her input, there is appreciation.

The power of gratitude comes from a deep spiritual understanding of leadership. This does not prevent players from striving to better tackle challenges.

“Because the best leaders set an example…”

Avoid The 4 Ps
How many of us have shown deep gratitude for all that we have? How many of us have given thanks to our team members for their contributions? Or better still, given thanks for an invisible but guiding hand helping us make the “right” choices?

You see, at a deeper level, genuine appreciation is beyond the level of the self. It is “spirit” and manifests as genuine concern. Great leaders know how to use this quality. The concept of “I” is dropped. In fact, it does not even enter into the equation. It is about giving without even thinking of “return on investment”.

Let’s not fool ourselves. Many business practices stress the 4 P’s: power, prosperity, pomp, and pedigree. This has always been the case, and given the context of human behavior is what drives people most. Self aggrandizement becomes the catalyst to action. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you are motivated to make a genuine difference to your organization, why not choose a different path to leadership?

By changing your leadership prescription consider these terms: sat, chit, and ananda. Although I broke up this Sanskrit term on purpose, it means: being, awareness, bliss. It is a term never breathed in business school although it should constitute a class just by itself. In certain cultures its value resonates. It represents the basic striving of all human beings inside and outside the workplace.

Why is this so? Because every wants to be happy. That’s right. Inside and outside the workplace. However, it eludes our grasp because we are looking in the wrong place. “Satchinanda” represents your inner state of completeness beyond the balance sheet. It contains a profound sense of integrity, which should be a core value of leadership. In our highly cynical world, most people would state that this is idealist and not feasible. You would be wrong to think so because all it would prove is how you undervalue your self as well as others.

Why not prove the naysayers wrong. Show your team the true value of “optimism” as a vehicle to success. Great leaders not only know this, but have used this principle for millennium to achieve incredible goals. So can you.

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Article Title: Why Innovative Leadership Gently Shakes The World
Photographs: curated by ES

About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at CAREO, a career management consultancy under the WCW Group brand.

For further inspiration
Visit CAREO: Life In The Fast Lane