Engage the Heart – 5 Steps to Drive Engagement and Lead Change

In today’s rapidly changing business climate, data and analytics often dominate the motivations behind decision-making. Leaders can be too quick with the head, and too slow to engage the heart. As I’ve mentioned before, leadership and engagement are the keys to success in business today. But as a leader, how are you going to kindle engagement to lead change and innovation among your team?

As a member of diverse teams throughout my professional athletic and business career, it has become abundantly clear that positive behavior changes are much more likely to take place when people feel engaged and empowered. There is a false assumption that title and level of authority are the only variables that differentiate a leader from everyone else. On the contrary, it is an individual’s ability to inspire one’s team members to be their best selves. This is the true catalyst for motivating change, and here is how to get there:

1. Be Present
While it’s true that those in leadership positions are often very busy, successful leaders still make time for their team – which prevents the camaraderie from suffering. Referred to as esprit de corps – the common spirit existing in a group that inspires enthusiasm and devotion – is a very powerful force. A simple first step to engender esprit de corps is to be present with members of your team – both physically and emotionally. Notable leaders never sequester themselves in their office while the rest of the team is performing; they’re always visible to others, as a symbol for what they want others to become.

2. Encourage Growth
No matter the size or scope of the organization, people want to be a part of something significant, – and something bigger than their job description. Remember, innovation and change are touchstones of prosperous teams. As a compassionate leader, it should be your duty to help foster both personal and professional growth among the members of your team. Encourage growth among your team by empowering those within it to take and make tough decisions, take risks, and find new ways to solve challenging problems – and it will strengthen your organization from the inside out.

3. Be Honest
Honesty is always the best policy. Sugarcoating a painful truth may seem like the compassionate thing to do, but ultimately it does your team a disservice. When you deliver hard-to-hear truths or constructive criticism, it’s crucial that you still act with consideration.

Remember this simple tip for compassionate leadership with regard to honesty: criticism is a gift, and it should be treated as such. There’s no need to be patronizing; but keep in the forefront of your mind that when you offer tips or advice, your intent is to help. Stick with optimistic, positive language and avoid phrases possessing a double meaning or can be easily misconstrued as a putdown like. Steer clear of “you should have done this,” or, “It’d be better if…” Instead, try “You can do this,” and “I know you’ll figure this out.” Positivity coupled with honesty is a surefire way to inspire and encourage your team to progress.

4. Support the Dream
As a concerned leader, encouraging the dream means to embolden hope for the future, explore potential opportunities, and welcome in new ideas to the fold. While life can be undoubtedly difficult for everyone, it is our challenges that always inevitably connect us. Our capacity to dream and to hope is how we rise above the daily difficulties and momentary challenges that we encounter in order to grow.

Good leaders recognize that everyone possesses the ability to dream passionately about something bigger than themselves. But great leaders tap into that capacity to dream in order to encourage growth and inspire change. Encouraging hopes and dreams for the future of both your organization and the lives of its team members is the best way to get past a stagnant headspace – and start engaging the heart.

5. Inspire Change
Due to the rapid advancement of technology, data and analytics have taken center stage as the decision makers when it comes to business development and strategy. However, analysis and metrics aren’t enough to inspire people to take a leap into the future. Of course, stats and figures have a crucial role – they often provide a detailed and necessary roadmap of where your organization needs to go. However, a compelling truth that influences the feelings of your team members – while tapping into their ability to dream of a better future – will be far more effective at sparking change than any graph with data and metrics.

A roadblock to inspiring change is the ever-present challenge of complacency. Complacency is a steadfast contentment with the status quo. Originating from past successes, it is a feeling of self-satisfaction while denying any danger or trouble looming around the corner. As leaders, we’re often battling complacency – that of our team, and of ourselves. Engaged and attuned leaders are aware that complacency is not only a thought, but also a feeling. That’s why it’s important to engage the hearts of team members and tap into the emotional benefit of brighter future possibilities – truly inspiring them to greatness.

In my time as a leadership keynote speaker, I’ve seen firsthand the impact that big dreams can have on people and organizations. Ultimately, people want to be called to something much bigger than themselves, and within this truth lies the responsibility of a leader – to inspire team members to overcome challenges and grow.

©  Tom Flick   All rights reserved.


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