Leaders and Employee Engagement
Does it surprise you to learn that relationships with management have a high correlation to employee engagement and performance? Probably not. It’s easy to understand how a positive relationship with your boss or supervisor contributes mightily to how happy you are in your work as well as to your overall sense of wellbeing. Leadership’s role in employee engagement cannot be overstated.
On the negative side, recent research tells us that three-fourths of those surveyed cited their immediate boss as the most stressful part of their job — not the content of the work as much as the person they report to. A disturbing statistic for any of us in management!
The Positive and the Negative
To take a closer look, here are two different scenarios related to leadership’s role in employee engagement:
- The Bad Leader
The vibes around a bad manager or leader can negatively infect the whole team. There are many reasons for bad bosses. They can be:
— Micromanagers who sap the creative energy from their team
— Over domineering bosses who manage with intimidation and fear
— Incompetent leaders who cast doubt on their abilities to get the job done
— Overly political managers who unfairly place relationships above results
— Self-centered managers who do not put their teams first
— Bosses slow to hear or act upon employee engagement survey feedback
Whatever the cause of mismanagement, the result is a team that lacks motivation, cohesion, and purpose.
- The Good Leader
High performing leaders provide both a safe and a collaborative environment for their team to perform at their peak. Employees trust good leaders to help them be the best they can be — to have the necessary skills, knowledge, approach, guidance, and resources to set and deliver on expectations and achieve agreed-upon goals and accountabilities.
And when people run into problems, good leaders make it easy for their teams to raise issues, have tough conversations, and explore solutions together.
The Concept of Servant-Leader
Those who believe in the type of “Good Leader” we just described developed the concept of “servant-leader.” Servant-leaders focus more on the growth and well-being of their people than on leading through authority and power. Conceptually, servant-leaders share power, put the needs of others first, and help people develop and perform at their peak.
They are able to build trust and create meaningful relationships with their team members at the same time as they demonstrate more traditional leadership skills like persuasion, forward thinking, and managing toward a common goal.
The Upside for the Organization
As they relinquish management by hierarchy and power, these so-called servant-leaders give a sense of ownership and control to their team members — both of which are key factors in increasing employee engagement and employee retention. Employees are simply more motivated and committed to their work when they are actively involved and appreciated.
The Bottom Line
To us, leadership’s role in employee engagement could not be clearer. Leaders are responsible for creating the circumstances to get the most from and for their people. Are your leaders able to strike the right balance of driving for performance results and employee engagement?
To learn more about leadership’s role in employee engagement, download How to Build Higher Levels of Trust in Leaders