According to recent Gallup research on employee engagement, only 36% of U.S. employees are engaged in their work and workplace. Gallup tracks employee engagement trends by surveying the working population about issues that affect organizational outcomes, including profitability, productivity, customer service, retention, safety and overall wellbeing.
Research reflects that disengaged employees tend to be poorly managed. It is incumbent on organizational leaders to both set expectations, and support managers in the development of skills and competencies required to improve their effectiveness. The productivity and wellness advantages of being able to connect with, inspire and engage colleagues have been well-documented.
Research also shows that the best leaders know when to “get out of the way” to motivate those around them. Leaders who openly admit they don’t always have all the answers tend to better inspire their teams to step up, participate and engage in ways that benefit everyone. Their job is not to do all the work themselves, but “to get the work done.”
Furthermore, smart leaders hire people who are smarter than themselves. Great leaders ask a lot of questions of their team members and they inspire their teams to be better problem solvers themselves, instead of always going to leadership to solve problems.
"Good leaders offer the opportunity to be a 'co-partner' with a team member, bringing support and encouragement when that colleague is taking a leap or trying something new. Just saying, ‘I’ve got your back’ and to know that person is right there, supporting you along the way,” said Kathleen Flaherty, a principal with Matthews, Carter & Boyce.
One of the strengths women bring to leadership is that female leaders are often more collaborative, inclusive and are simply better observers of people. This can lead to a leadership style that is more empathetic and effective, as women may be quicker to intervene when team members need support or encouragement. Despite the setbacks of the pandemic, this is a time of great opportunity for female leaders, who tend to be better listeners and more attuned to the professional development of others around them.
Great leaders understand the importance of workplace wellness and diverse representation within their ranks and teams. Notably, Gallup research states “career wellbeing” enhances every aspect of wellbeing, including social, financial, physical and community. This research concluded: “Doubling the national employee engagement percentage would have a profoundly positive impact on workers' mental health and overall wellbeing throughout the country.”
How can an organization encourage an environment where great leaders can thrive? By:
- Fostering the creation of a leadership culture that reflects how organizational leaders are expected to “show up.”
- Making leadership and professional development an organizational priority.
- Recognizing employees as people and not just producers by making room for individual skills, talents, and interests.