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.
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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