The Engaging Leader – Part 1

June 29, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

Employee engagement is becoming more and more of a challenge for leaders. Expectations and values associated with work are changing and leaders need to change with it.

Participants in my leadership training suggest that some of the common challenges related to employee engagement they struggle with include;

1. Addressing unacceptable behaviour and poor performance

2. Dealing with difficult people & personalities

3. Managing subordinates’ resistance to change

4. Being listened to and gaining the respect of others

5. Not having their ideas accepted, needing to be more influential

6. Saying “No” to unreasonable requests

HR professionals estimate that more than 80% of the people who fail in their jobs do so because they don’t relate well to other people. No skill is more important to your success at work than your ability to influence people.

When it comes to leadership, your followers determine how successful you are. Effective leaders understand how to get different (and sometimes difficult) people to willingly follow their lead. Your success with others will multiply once you understand the secrets of engaging the full range of personalities on your team.

Even if you don’t see yourself as a ‘natural people person’, you can learn to be an exceptional leader. Based on the leadership training I do in Brisbane with managers, here are some of the most important and useful skills for becoming a more engaging leader.

Lead with purpose. One international survey showed that 83% of people think that work is more than just a means to an end. They want work to be meaningful. Studies by the American Leadership Council pointed to ‘purpose’ and meaning at work as one of the top contributing factors employee engagement. Leaders need to make sure that they are showing people “why” the work they do is important to the success of the organisation not just “how” to do the work.

Build trust. Trust is never won or lost in a single blow. Trust is built up or watered down based on consistency of behaviour. It’s like a bank account that we can either make deposits into or take withdrawals from. Our behaviour constitutes either a deposit or a withdrawal. Based on this analogy trust is built or destroyed based on the “trustworthiness” of individuals in the working relationship. In other words trust is a doing word… it is much more than a comfortable and re-assured feeling. Leaders must model this type of trustworthy behaviour and influence others to do the same. Leader should encourage people to start with an assumption of trust and behave in a trustworthy manner.

Work with differences. Many problems inside organisations arise because of peoples’ unpreparedness and inability to accept and work with differences. Leader must encourage their team members to work to their strengths rather than be frustrated by their differences. The study of different personality styles is very useful in providing a framework for understanding differences. There are many good personality profiling tools available. A simple tool such as DISC is great because of its simplicity and accuracy. An understanding of DISC can shed new light on perceptions within a relationship.

In Part 2 of this article I focus on why listening is the most powerful influence skills of all, getting the assertive fit right and matching your leadership style with the readiness level of your follower.

To read more about this visit

James McNamara from The Impact Factory teaches managers and business owners how to lead from three platforms. Firstly how to lead your team, secondly how to lead your clients and thirdly how to become the local thought leader in your niche.
To find out more about our team leadership training, visit

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