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Leadership, Purpose and Engagement

May 29, 2009 - In Leadership in Management - No comments yet

The focus of attention for many management teams in search of better revenues and profits is engagement.  A workforce that is merely ‘satisfied’ but not engaged is unlikely to achieve its full performance.  Some leaders have been aware of the risks involved if the competition is successful: “The person who figures out how to harness the collective genius of the people in his or her organisation,” said former Citibank CEO Walter Wriston, “is going to blow the competition away”. 

The topics we emphasise are those to do with leadership and purpose and how these impact the engagement of employees.  People who are engaged with an organisation have a strong emotional bond; they feel that they share in a common purpose and do meaningful work.  This is more than being simply motivated by an interesting job – the strength of commitment goes beyond this into identifying with the larger purpose of the organisation.

This is the modern leader’s challenge; how to get everyone in the organisation energised to fulfil the higher purpose. People who are engaged are likely to be advocates of the organisation and recommend its products and services.  A good test is what they tell their friends! The benefits of having engaged employees are huge.  Imagine an organisation of hundreds or thousands of people, all keen ambassadors for the organisation and its products and services.

So what are the essential priorities for a leadership team?  Developing a purpose or vision for the whole organisation is the starting point.  However, this is not for the general manager to undertake alone; they need to involve their immediate team, enabling them to make a contribution and to gain ownership of the purpose/vision for themselves.

Most importantly, the management team needs to address how they will lead the engagement of the whole organisation. Communicating to the next management levels in a way that answers the question ‘what does this mean to me?, and developing those managers to be able to answer the same question from their people, is critical for creating a climate of engagement.

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