By Zana Goic Petricevic, below, author of Bold Reinvented: Next level leading with Courage, Consciousness and Conviction.
As leaders, we are constantly reacting to challenges. In order to engage effectively with our teams and get the best results together we must build trust, be authentic role models and believe in other people’s skills and input. Here are five engagement tips to inspire leaders to get the best out of their people, and themselves in the process.
Be Real, Relate and Listen
In order to be a true leader and engage effectively with your team, you must relate to your people. Listen to them, ask questions, check in, show an interest in them as people first, and create caring relationships that can go the distance. If your team can really see that you care, they will probably care too.
Relating to other people involves engaging the power to listen and making the active choice to genuinely hear the people we work with. If we listen effectively, we will get more out of our team, find solutions together more easily, and create a platform for diversity of opinions and perspectives that will enrich our businesses. Instead, if we are not open to other people’s ideas, or shoot them down as soon as they speak up, we will create a subdued and less confident, less engaged team, who are rarely willing to take risks or voice their ideas, for fear of being undermined. This ultimately will stifle the organisation’s progress and the happiness and unity of the group.
With bold conversations and open- ears you will be more engaged with your team, and they with you. They will be more likely to speak up and offer solutions and the business will naturally have more depth, longevity, and potential for growth.
Passion and Risk-Taking
Play big, take risks and be bold in your own vision and ideas and in how you receive other people’s. Don’t play it safe, be open to diversity of thought and actively encourage it.
Sometimes it can feel like a chore to navigate ideas that are different to our own, and sometimes we generate our own value and worthiness from the belief that we alone are right. However, when leaders prioritise being right over having good relationships, the team suffers, and the connection is broken. If we can break down our assumptions and the protective mechanisms that surround the desire to always be right, we can remain engaged, continue to learn and be open to others input. If we can set an example of openness and create a platform for others to speak up and think outside the box, we can ensure a diverse and engaged team.
Bring your passion to the table and give permission for others to do the same. Be curious about your team member’s passions – what gets them going? What are their unique strengths? Passion and individual virtues and interests can be valuable catalysts in problem solving and are often the places where people feel most confident and invested. If we bring our passion to the table, we can inspire bold thinking, open dialogue, and risk- taking in others.
In critical moments there is always the risk that self -preservation instincts can undermine our ability to engage with others. It is a kind of defence mechanism, and often corresponds with detachment tendencies, such as stepping back and shifting responsibility on to others.
If we put the blame on others, and don’t actively engage with the problem or take responsibility ourselves, we run the risk of producing a demoralised, less confident, and unproductive team, who are also less capable of fixing the problem.
In contrast, if we continue to engage with our teams during difficult moments, if we show willingness to be better ourselves, and take on shared responsibility for problems that arise, we will inspire the team to be more engaged, more accountable, and more invested in positive solutions.
Communication and Trust
If we strive to be role models for our teams, and believe in ourselves first and foremost, we will build trust. Your team will know that they can rely on you and will want to deliver.
When we communicate trust and belief in others, success becomes tied to our relationships and collaborations, and the team can, in turn, celebrate victories together, rather than only praising individuals. This is important, because if the leader is always taking the credit and only interested in personal victories, it is unlikely to positively motivate others to collaborate or support each other, and the team will not feel supported by you to achieve. They may even worry that they will not get credit or be recognised for their work or may act selfishly in their decision making, through a heightened desire for personal achievement.
If we can learn to step back and be self-less leaders, and not slaves to the ego, we can encourage the team to feel engaged and accountable and enable them to celebrate group wins when they come, regardless of our impact. Essentially, it doesn’t always need to be about you. It is about us.
If we can represent ourselves as active, learning leaders we will set a strong example and show that we are truly engaged as leaders. Technical learning, such as gaining new qualifications, completing workshops, courses and team building exercises are all valid and important ways of showing that you are all- in as a leader. However, to be fully invested, we also need to be practised in self-awareness and adaptive learning, being able to continually assess who we were, who we are and who we want to be on a personal, emotional level.
This requires a lot of work on ourselves, and we must ask important questions to unlock our potential and engage fully: What makes us special? What is our true purpose or belief system? How can we utilise everything we have experienced and learnt? What is there for us still to learn? How can our relationships be better? If we reflect in this way, we can bring our authentic selves to the table and be open to that in others too.
If we are actively invested in personal and emotional development, we can lead, delegate, motivate and inspire our teams, whilst creating a critical learning environment that fosters personal growth and engagement.
If we can create strong foundations built on trust, communication, passion, and collaboration, whilst actively engaging with ourselves and our people on a continuous, evolving level, we will be more and more successful as leaders and will inspire others to bring their best, most engaged- selves in return. This level of engagement will help grow our organisations for years to come.
Zana Goic Petricevic is an internationally certified leadership coach, consultant and keynote speaker. She is the founder of Bold Leadership Culture, and the author of Bold Reinvented: Next level leading with Courage, Consciousness and Conviction.