How Leadership Style Is Affecting Engagement

Posted in : HR Updates on 19 August 2015
Angela Schettino
Think People Consulting
Issues covered:

Given the now extensive research linking Performance directly to Employee Engagement, most leaders are aware that the business of ‘Engaging’ employees is no longer considered a ‘soft’ topic. It’s an essential component for developing an agile organisation that can survive and thrive in today’s harsh economic climate, whatever the size or sector the organisation operates in. The topic of ‘Employee Engagement’ is however, one we all still struggle with, not least those in Leadership positions.

Ask yourself “How many of your employees are truly passionate about your organisation, its values, its vision, its mission, and the role that they play? Be honest… conduct a harsh analysis and come up with a true picture of Engagement (usually the survey will reflect what you already know).

Your answer to this question should be a very telling sign about the overall health of your organisation. Are some people just showing up for work and collecting their pay, or are they personally committed to achieving your company vision? Are your employees ambassadors who motivate internal and external stakeholders, or do they gather in small groups to gripe and complain about all the things wrong with the organisation and its leadership?

Being out of touch with the hearts and minds of your employees as a CEO, MD or Senior Team member, is never a good position to find yourself in. Employee Engagement & Leadership style go hand in hand. All the evidence shows that what employees describe as good to great leaders produce committed, engaged and productive employees. Theories and research on the question of what makes a good leader are prolific. We've given you one here to think about.

Your Leadership Style

According to Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, leaders in leadership development consulting, there are two particular styles a leader can adapt which have the most positive impact on engaging employees. These Leadership styles are characterised as either ‘Drivers’ or ‘Enhancers’.

The Driver Style of Leadership

The key aspect of this style of Leadership is the push for performance outcomes. The Driver sets high standards and push boundaries for performance delivery. They expect employees expand their goals and aspire to things beyond their operational objectives. They keep the employees focussed on the highest priority goals and objectives and also help them in achieving those goals and objectives.

The Enhancer Style of Leadership

The key aspect in the Enhancer style is about enabling employees. Enhancer type of leader helps in solving the issues and concerns of the employees, and also acts as a role model for them. They give essential feedback in an honest and helpful way, develop people and build trust.

Which Style of Leadership Gives Higher Employee Engagement?

In their research about this, the Enhancer type of leader got the most approval. Also, most leaders believe that employee commitment can be enhanced if the leader is a ‘nice’ person. But the numbers show a different story.

Employees were asked about their level of engagement on a scale of 1 to 5, and also if their leaders were enhancers or drivers. Those leaders who scored 75th percentile were judged as effective drivers or enhancers.

From this data it was found that the highest percentage of employees who judged their leaders to be effective drivers (and not enhancers as might be expected) rated themselves in the top 10% in terms of employee engagement.

Adaptable Leadership

The moral of this story is that setting high performance goals for yourself and your organisation and being a Leader who dares to ‘aspire’ beyond the short term to greater things, may have the greatest impact on Employee Engagement.

But this is not the end of the story. We also know that, personal integrity, high levels of trust and great communication are all essential leadership elements in achieving higher levels of engagement and a thriving performance culture. These elements are underlined time and again by the ‘Engage for Success’ forum, considered to be at the forefront of Engagement research in the UK. It is also true that the time for driving hard verses using a softer approach will depend on circumstances and individuals. Adaptability is a great and much needed Leadership skill.

This article is correct at 19/10/2015

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Angela Schettino
Think People Consulting

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