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The 3 New Rules of Engagement For Leaders

March 20, 2013

The many focuses and projects of a leader can be overwhelming. Often we can feel as if we are not making much headway with the many priorities we have. We may be focused on project outcomes, priorities that our boss has mandated and other tasks.In addition we may be challenged with the varying levels of engagement that exists within our teams.rulesofengagement-300x152

One of the biggest paradoxes of being a leader is where to put our focus. If we focus on projects, tasks and goals we risk forgetting about the need to lead individuals on our team. If we focus on coaching and guiding the individuals on our team we risk being sidelined by people issues and not getting our projects completed.

It’s not about either/or in today’s fast paced and technological workplace- it is about AND. As a leader we need to be focused on strategy, goals and outcomes AND we need to be equally focused on people involvement. If we ignore one or the other of these the wheels will come off.

There is no denying that the modern workplace has new dynamics, new work attitudes and new team challenges. The key as a leader is to understand the new rules of engagement as it relates to the people we lead.

Here they are:

#1- Regardless of age or any other factor people are looking for deeper meaning in their life and their work. If they are not ‘feeling’ it they check out either mentally, emotionally or with their performance. As leaders we cannot afford to have any of our team mates not be operating at their optimal performance. So how can we as leaders help the people we lead having deeper meaning? We need to listen more deeply to hear what each of the individuals are saying they want and need, we need to communicate in the way each individual responds best be it face to face, Skype, IM, email, texting or Google Hangouts. We need to consistently remind each individual of their role in the company, why he or she is important, how they fit in the overall picture of the organization and how what they do is crucial to the companies success and his or her personal success.

#2 – We need to make them feel better about themselves and the work they do. Every great leader always leaves the company, department or team in better shape than when they started. Phenomenal leaders provide growth, inspiration, striving to be better, a desire to be more and to exceed their potential. Research by the US Conference board in 2012 states that happiness is and will be a key factor in whether employees stay engaged with their current employer. This rule requires leadership that is focused on ‘seeking the positive’ and ‘rewarding and recognizing positive contributions’ by the team members.

#3- Be willing to take risks for the benefit of the organization and the people involved. It is known that we can’t please all of the people all of the time. Employees increase their engagement when they see that leadership is driving change forward for the benefit of the company, the customers and ultimately the employees. Sometimes this requires massive change such as restructuring, downsizing or other outcomes of change. Employees will stay engaged through this when they see the bigger picture, understand the business rationale and can see the competitive reality. This is where leadership can use the power of visuals, competitor comparisons, and videos to show the changes that the company needs to make and communicates the impact to the employees. Most change initiatives fail and create many disenfranchised employees because of lack of communication, explanation and consistent messaging.

The energy invested in these rules of engagement will pay major dividends- leaders need to invest equal time into these people engagement ideas as they do in getting projects completed and tasks done. In reality the energy leaders invest in engagement helps in the completion of projects and tasks anyway.

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