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Building Blocks of Successful Leadership

Being an effective leader is not easy. There is a lot that goes into being a truly effective leader that goes way past positive results. Employee satisfaction plays a vital role in leading effectively. However, giving employees the tools they need to grow and achieved success, is a large task. Effective leadership engagement is one of the simplest ways to connect with your employees.

How Do You View Leadership?

What does being a leader look like to you? There are theories and thousands of books written about leadership. For instance, in a recent survey conducted by the Harvard School Professional Development, there are about 15,000 books on leadership. However, even with all this literature, leadership takes on a unique meaning to every person. 

As a student, I have worked with all kinds of different leaders. One thing that has helped me to connect and respect leadership is leadership engagement. Personal engagement can house many things, including treating employees with respect and valuing them. Understanding that your employees are people outside of work hours. In addition, it allows your employees to understand and trust you more.

What Does Engagement Look Like?

One personal example of a leader who values effective leadership engagement would be the President of Anderson University (AU). President John Pistole, former administrator of the Transportation Security Administration and former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, took the place of former Anderson president John Edwards in 2015.

President John Pistole, or as AU students affectionately call him PJP, has been the President of AU for the entire time I have been a student. He knows my first and last name as well as details about my life outside of being a student, such as my birthday. This courtesy is not only extended to me but the entire student body. He tries diligently to learn every new student’s name to foster a sense of kinship. Because of this engagement he has created relationships with the student body.

What does this accomplish? In my opinion, it creates trust and respect. As students, we feel that we have a personal connection to our university President. Because of this, we trust him to make the best decisions possible. Similarly, this is an example of how leaders’ behavior can have a positive impact on their leadership. 

Connection Between Leadership and Behavior

Leadership behavior is directly correlated with employee behavior. Treating your employees with respect and dignity makes them feel seen. For instance, in a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, they found that the most important trait of a leader is respect. Respect helps employees feel seen and heard. Employees who are extended respect and dignity are more satisfied with their jobs. According to the 2001 study on the relationship between job satisfaction and job performance, employees that are more satisfied with their job performed better.

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How to Properly Engage

Leading is not simply about overseeing job performance. Firstly, check-in on your employees. secondly, learn about their lives outside of the workplace. Thirdly, foster healthy relationships to build unity. An article in Forbes by John Hall, details five tips for creating a personal bond with your employees.

  1. Communicate frequently 
  2. Go beyond “How are you?’
  3. Help each employee reach his or her goals
  4. Recognize and celebrate success
  5. Stop saying you don’t have time

Mistakes to Avoid

Truly engaging with people requires you to genuinely care about their well-being. Bringing empathy and connection into your leadership role benefits employees and makes your leadership more effective. According to Professor George Kohlriser, IMD Business School, there are ten damaging mistakes a leader can make. The very first mistake is not taking a personal interest in people’s lives. Kohlriser states, “A leader who is not interested in people on a human level is off to a bad start. A leader who is conceptually interested in others but doesn’t make time to “bond” with people misses the mark as well.”

Engaging with employees is not just about face value communication. Bonding with people allows them to know you on a deeper level. While, they might not always like you when it comes time to make a hard decision, but they know what makes you tick. They understand that you will make the best possible decisions. This is not a quick process, Kohlriser says that it “takes time above and beyond pure task-oriented work.” Effective leadership engagement is not easy for everyone how are you going above and beyond to make your employees feel seen? Make sure to check out the Stratavize blog series on leadership to learn more about how to be the most effective leader possible.

About the Author

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Rebekah Corwin is a senior public relations and psychology double major at Anderson University interning with Stratavize for the summer. Find her on LinkedIn.

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