employee engagement

Leadership Challenges: Leading with Intention

All month I’ve been working through challenges managers bring to me during my bootcamp and workshop sessions. Today’s challenge is all about how to lead with intention to create an engaged culture at work that doesn’t solely rely on the leader but rather creates a culture of engagement throughout the entire company.

It starts with intent

Here’s what we know about how to effectively guide and influence human behavior: when leaders are more intentional about the culture they want to create at work, they’re more likely to set engagement into motion. When a leader comes to work thinking “how can I improve engagement for my team? How can I create the best culture possible?” that intentionality is more likely to influence everything she does during the day. 

Instead of simply saying hello to an employee or walking up and shaking her hand and saying “Hey, great job, Kelly” an intentionally-engaged leader might say “Hey Kelly, the way you handled that project and the way you responded so quickly to the team – that was just amazing!” Being intentional about engagement can influence everything from a leader’s vocabulary to the length of the interaction. When a leader begins with intent around engagement, it makes a big difference. 

Creating a culture of engagement

Many engagement strategies are tactical: a conversation, a one-on-one meeting, a feedback session. I know this can all feel like it’s just adding on more work and more time to a leader’s plate. Managers today work in a busier environment with more complexity than they ever have before, thus actually increasing the need for leaders to behave in ways that are engaging. Complex projects, the pace of work, and the amount of things the leaders have to do, make leaders less available to their direct reports. 

In an environment where you’re spending less time with each of your team members, the time you do spend with them should be strategic and intentional. When you’re laser focused on team culture, you are creating an environment where engaging interactions happen even without the physical presence of the leader. Individual team members are more likely to be engaged, which means they’re more supportive, inclusive, caring, and collaborative. 

The Ecosystem Approach

At the Leadership Academy our goal isn’t to just enhance a leader’s capability but to transform company culture through a ripple effect where others start to perform in more engaging ways, too. When we work with leaders and managers, we work from an ecosystem approach to create this domino effect of engagement. The old view of leadership is the leader makes everything happen. The newer, more productive view of leadership is an inherently relational, collaborative process. When leaders show up with intention, they create an atmosphere of engagement that has an impact throughout the team.

Key Takeaways

  • Start your day with the intention of creating engagement. See how that mindset affects your interactions with your direct reports.
  • Managers today struggle with never ending to-do lists, so don’t let the burden of engagement fall only on you. Work with your engaged and actively engaged employees to create a culture of engagement.
  • Given the increased complexity and pace of work, now it’s more important than ever to create an engaging work culture, so employees show up doing their best every day.

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