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Your executive team sets the tone of your organization when it comes to results – in terms of your talent management strategy and your bottom line. Organizational innovation, growth and agility are difficult to achieve without engaged leaders.

Engaged leaders tend to:

  • Have had formative early experiences. They may have had caring, attentive mentors. Many had stretch assignments that “chose the leader” versus the leader choosing them. These were the experiences that shaped them from an early point and helped them to gain self-confidence, humility and empathy.
  • Share a common set of beliefs about leadership. Underneath an engaged leader’s behavior is a powerful set of guiding beliefs. They feel that it is their responsibility to serve their followers, especially in times of crisis or change. Many express core beliefs based on the importance of personal connections. As noted by one leading CEO, “Leadership is a contact sport.”
  • Exhibit behaviors that engage those around them. There is a set of common behaviors among engaged leaders that are no doubt driven by their core beliefs. They proactively own solutions. They energize others, keeping their teams focused on purpose and vision with contagious positivity. They connect and stabilize groups by listening, staying calm and unifying people. They stay grounded, humble, open and candid and are authentic in their communications and actions.

Take the following steps to give your team the benefit of engaged leadership:

  1. Make Leadership Development a Priority

Draw a clear connection between effective leaders and your company’s ability to make an impact. Drive home the message that leadership development and engagement are critical to your organization’s mission.

  1. Set Expectations and Hold People Accountable

Your CEO sets the tone for executive engagement, but your managers gauge the development needs of potential leaders. Establish the expectation that every manager will take on this responsibility.

  • Job descriptions should state explicitly that managers will be held accountable for developing their direct reports.
  • Promotions should be linked to development goals.
  • Executive team members should be required to include leadership development among the goals that form the basis of their annual performance reviews.
  1. Optimize Your HR Capabilities

Clarify and understand the key role your HR department can play in leadership development and engagement.

  • Have your HR staff collect data for decision making and ensure that executives are following up on their engagement responsibilities.
  • HR can coordinate development-related processes and programs. These should be integrated in ongoing workflows.
  • Consider supplementing your HR staff with an executive search firm that can partner with them to strategize, develop and implement your initiatives.
  1. Involve Your Governing Board

Your governing board and CEO share responsibility for ensuring that your organization has the right leadership to meet your mission consistently over time. Evidence suggests the opposite: that many boards consider executive engagement only when the time comes to select the next CEO. Make sure your board regularly supports leadership and succession planning by:

  • Developing formal performance reviews of your CEO. This reinforces the importance of leadership engagement and models constructive feedback for the rest of the organization.
  • Checking in periodically. This involves reviewing the status of leadership development efforts. A logical time for this is during your annual planning period.
  1. Create a Culture of Engagement

People don’t quit their jobs, they quit their leaders. Engagement is all about feelings, so build engagement intelligence starting at the top of your organization. It will cascade down, ultimately improving your bottom line and attracting the best leaders for your future.

Lack of engagement costs businesses $350 billion a year on a global scale. The average business reports only a 50 percent engagement rate. Be sure to position your company on the high end of the scale. To learn more, contact the executive recruitment team at BrainWorks. We can partner with you to make yours a culture of engaged – and engaging – leaders.


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