Why engagement is the new leadership

The most recent 2018 Gallup study has found that 86% of Australians are currently disengaged at work, and yet Australian businesses continue to invest billions annually in mainstream leadership training and development programs. So, what are we missing here, and why are Australian business leaders failing to engage their people?

Now more than ever in this new and highly competitive retail market, businesses will be striving to stand out and create a leading edge on their competitors, and this should start with your people.  Now, while most leadership and management training courses are inspiring on the day, they are usually reserved for select middle and senior leaders within the business – with limited follow up. The lion’s share of people are missing out, and those that do participate are not held accountable for the long term.

I liken it to taking a dirty fish from a murky pond, cleaning it, and returning it to the same pond. The goal of course, is for the newly cleaned fish to come back and clean the murky pond. Not easy! Inevitably after a clean fish returns to the same pond it will lose momentum and become dirty once again. The pond is far too big and far too dirty for one fish to clean on its own!

Through the experience of working with over 1000 teams in corporate, SME, government and elite sport, I’ve observed just about every leadership training program on the market. The truth is most of them don’t even come close to accomplishing what they were designed to do, which is build better leaders. You don’t build leaders through short term training; you build leaders through ongoing and accountable development. And why would this be reserved for just a select few?  Trained leaders today have been overloaded with leadership theory, but too often they are not sufficiently activated, the results can’t be measured, and motivation quickly fades.

The truth is that engagement surpasses leadership on every level when building a winning team and achieving sustained success. In theory leadership should create engagement, but this strategy has failed. Without actively engaged employees, the leadership message is heavily diluted, and they don’t really care! Business Leaders need to turn their attention to their people.

Collective engagement fosters a thriving culture far more rapidly and effectively than investing focus and resources solely in leadership.  Enlightened businesses are finally starting to recognise this, replacing the traditional and exclusive leadership training model with structured, all-inclusive in-house programs. It’s called ‘leadership living’ and all levels of the organisation participate together in the workplace. It’s about working as a unified team to change everyone’s individual and collective behaviours through shared ownership, individual empowerment, and group understanding. 

Theory-based knowledge dumping is out, replaced by an all action methodology, giving everyone the opportunity to offer honest feedback, along with their innovative thoughts.  Each team member makes individual and group commitments, and everyone is regularly held accountable in an open and public environment.

One of my recent clients had a small workforce who had all been with the business for 3 – 5 years. None of them were actively engaged. The business owner was frustrated and exhausted, relationships had deteriorated, and the company was barely performing in terms of productivity and profitability. The business owner had completed numerous leadership courses, and he was always actively working to improve himself. His efforts would usually result in small, short term improvements, but momentum would inevitably be lost, and the culture and team engagement levels were at an all-time low. Individual Leadership was not enough.

Upon completion of a structured engagement program that involved everyone in his business, we saw a rapid and significant transformation. Each team member made individual and group commitments, systems were advanced, the energy shifted, and the team became united. The end-result was a staggering 47% increase in profitability. 

Mainstream ‘knowledge dumping’ leadership programs have had their day and leadership living is the new way. Remember, people are not loyal to products or places. They are loyal to people!

– Richard Maloney, CEO of Quality Mind Global

Richard Maloney is the founder and CEO of Quality Mind Global, an international mindfulness business with over 500 clients in 30+ countries. He is also the founder of Engage & Grow Global, which is now the number one employee engagement licensing company in the world. Now, he has a unique and tangible system designed to minimize or eliminate stress from business leaders and executives through systematic mental training, allowing you to unlock your ultimate capability and your true potential, both at work and in life. For more on the Quality Mind Program & App, or to purchase the book Stress Free – How to Thrive Under Pressure in Unprecedented Times, go to www.qualitymindglobal.com

- Advertisement -