What’s the difference between leaders who inspire a high level of employee engagement – and ones who struggle to get people to do the bare minimum their jobs require?
The secret lies in knowing how to lead from the heart outwards.
Successful leaders inspire their team by communicating their vision in a way that generates excitement and motivates others to jump on board with full commitment. They recognize potential in their people, coach their team members to go above and beyond, and routinely acknowledge others’ positive contributions. And while they demand accountability from the people they lead, they also hold themselves accountable for their performance as well.
Here are some heart-centered tips on how to boost employee engagement in your company – and create a culture of success:
1. Know your own strengths and weaknesses
If you want to lead others, first you must understand yourself. When you have a clear sense of your own strengths and weaknesses – and the impact your behavior has on others – your ability to engage others will improve.
For example, let’s say you’re not a graphic designer. Why impose your ideas on the company brochure when you can delegate this responsibility to someone who will do a much better job than you?
Or maybe you’re an introvert who hates making sales calls to clients. Why not hand that task over to an extrovert who’s been blessed with the “gift of gab” and speaks in a way that makes other people want to listen to him or her?
Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses gives you the ability to discern when your skills will add value – or not – and keeps you open to delegating and listening to people with other points of view.
2. Inspire them with a clear, compelling, continuous vision
To engage your employees and motivate them to work tirelessly toward achieving a goal, you must first have a clear and compelling vision of the future. What will you and your team ultimate achieve? By when? What will everyone gain when the goal is reached? Is it honorable, beneficial, ethical, and uplifting? What’s so compelling about it? What else will also be achieved as your team is striving for this major goal?
To inspire maximum employee engagement, you’ll also need to articulate who your team will become as they learn and grow on the path to achieving your vision. They must be able to see themselves in the future as better, smarter, stronger, more valued, and more confident. Defining that outcome in a way that resonates emotionally with your team should be a key part of your vision.
Finally, your belief in your vision must be unshakable. You must believe it’s not only possible, but desirable, essential, and inevitable. And you must communicate this belief with absolute certainty. Only then will you inspire the employee engagement in you need to make your vision a reality.
3. Listen for possibility
Once your employees have bought into your vision, be sure to really LISTEN to them – not only to hear their thoughts and input but also to make sure they feel heard. People want to know they make a difference and that their insights and opinions matter.
As you listen, focus on remaining present in the moment and being curious to hear other options. That’s when you’ll be able to hear what’s REALLY being said (the unspoken and well as the spoken) – and create a true dialogue with your team, instead of simply delivering orders or explaining the game plan.
This kind of listening requires a willingness to be transformed by what you hear. It requires you to shift your focus from listening for “the right way or the wrong way” to listening for what is possible.
I call this approach “listening for possibility.” When you truly listen and are open to all input and ideas, it allows you to co-create new approaches, new outcomes and new benefits from the ideas that you hear – and gives your employees the freedom and ability to help shape your path in ways that you alone would not have foreseen.
And that kind of active participation is what will make them become even more motivated to help you make your vision a reality.
4. Coach them to take leadership roles
Coaching people into action and helping them develop their own leadership skills means you not only get to share decision making, you also build a team of smart, confident, and self-directed people who can respond quickly to changing conditions and circumstances. And this will make your own life so much easier.
The key lies in the word coaching. Through deep listening and skillful questioning, you can help others discover their own solutions to problems and opportunities. Instead of being the only person figuring out what to do next, you can help them develop their own problem-solving skills and come up with their own solutions.
Not only does this engage them more fully in the process, it creates more time and space for you to focus on what YOU need to do to accomplish your vision. Business and sales training programs are also a great way to train your team to handle greater responsibilities.
5. Encourage constant improvement
If you’ve read The Success Principles, you’ll know that I encourage people to commit to constant and never-ending improvement. This is something you should encourage in your own team to increase employee engagement and get them to take a leadership role in helping you achieve your vision.
This is especially true in today’s ever-changing world, where new technologies, manufacturing techniques, and marketing tools are announced nearly every month. Improvement is necessary not only to survive, but to thrive.
Meet with your employees regularly so you have a good idea of what their strengths, skills gaps, and interests are. Encourage them to take control of their own career development – and then help them create personalized improvement paths that will benefit them personally while increasing their value to the company. Then provide the budget and time necessary to help them achieve their goals.
Not only will this improve their ability to contribute to their vision, it will earn their gratitude and loyalty toward both you and the company as a whole.
6. Always have their backs
When it comes right down to it, you can’t inspire employee engagement without earning their loyalty first. The best way to inspire loyalty is to make sure your employees know you are always looking out for their best interests.
If you’re inconsistent with your approach or style, allow your employees to take the brunt of a customer’s or CEO’s displeasure, take credit for their work or neglect to celebrate their successes in a public way that encourages the whole company to recognize their value — they will have a hard time trusting you.
And without trust, there is no loyalty and zero motivation to do their best.
7. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable
The key to being self-aware as a leader is a willingness to be wrong, to not know everything,
to recognize that you have certain biases, and to see where your opinions may be simply getting in the way. No one has all the answers, and great leaders admit there is always plenty to learn. They encourage honest feedback – and take it to heart.
When you are willing to admit your own mistakes and genuinely listen to critical feedback – without rationalizing, justifying, or placing blame – you get to turn these moments into learning opportunities for yourself and “teachable moments” for your team. You create a more open and collaborative culture among your team members – without the pressure or fear of anyone pretending to know it all.
And that kind of authenticity and transparency is the best possible foundation on which to build a culture of success.
Exceptional leaders aren’t born that way. They become exceptional by developing a unique set of attitudes and skills that are both learnable and teachable.
To boost employee engagement, you must become a leader worth following
You can acquire these skills gradually through years of study and on-the-job experience – or you can dramatically accelerate your progress and leapfrog your way over the usual obstacles by joining my new Train the Trainer Online program.
This self-directed online program will teach you how to become a transformational trainer who has a life-changing impact on others. These are essential skills to have if you lead or manage other people, or if you want to be a more effective speaker, teacher, or coach.
You can learn more here: TRAIN THE TRAINER ONLINE.