Effective leadership positively affects employee engagement.
Effective leadership positively affects employee engagement, collaboration, organizational commitment, performance, well-being and customer satisfaction. There is growing evidence of the effectiveness of positive or strengths-based leadership. It is not the latest fad on strategies, it is grounded in years of scientific research with findings such as increased performance, productivity, well-being and engagement. It is more a leadership orientation than a leadership style, with a focus on empowerment and trust, value-based decisions, fostering a purpose-driven, positive organisational environment in which employees are empowered and can flourish.
Positive leaders emphasize and build on employees’ strengths rather than focus on their weaknesses, and this emphasis creates an attraction to forming strong interpersonal ties. The orientation is toward enabling thriving and flourishing at least as much as addressing obstacles and impediments. It is not the same as merely being nice, charismatic, trustworthy, or a servant leader. Rather, it incorporates these attributes and supplements them with a focus on strategies that provide strengths-based, positive energy to individuals and organizations. (1)
For many organizations nowadays, it can be advantageous to foster an environment where entrepreneurship, risk-taking (within boundaries), creativity, ownership and inventiveness are expected and rewarded. And this implies a different approach to control systems and a different role from (senior)managers. In general, micromanagement doesn’t work and employees are getting more freedom and autonomy in their work. The best management is sometimes less management.
“The old organization was built on control, but the world has changed. The world is moving at such a pace that control has become a limitation. It slows you down. You’ve got to balance freedom with some control, but you’ve got to have more freedom that you ever dreamed of” Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric
‘The leader’s role is to free people, not control them –to free their strengths, ideas, energy and value’ TonyHsieh, Managing Director, Zappos
Does your company consider employees to be an asset or a liability? Organizational success is only possible when you unlock, develop and reward the talents within your organization.
“People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough” (2)
It takes far more energy to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence. Peter Drucker
According to Kim Cameron, a foremost proponent of Positive Leadership and author of the bestselling ‘Positive Leadership: Strategies for Extraordinary performance’, Positive Leadership does not deny the existence of the not-so-pleasant-events and experiences in organisations, rather, it focuses on using ‘scientific evidence and theoretically-grounded principles to promote outcomes such as thriving at work, interpersonal flourishing, virtuous behaviours, positive emotions, and energising networks’. (3)
PEOPLE LEAVE BOSSES, NOT COMPANIES
Many employees quit because of bad bosses. Of all the reasons people leave the
“Leadership is not a position. It’s moral authority. Moral authority comes from following universal and timeless principles like honesty, integrity, treating people with respect,” (Stephen Covey, author of bestselling books on leadership and self-improvement a.o. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).
The most successful managers don’t lead from a position of command and control, they bring out the best of their people, they know what
What motivates people
is: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.
According to Semler, the CEO of Semco the biggest obstacle for implementing participatory management are the managers themselves, because they are so inclined to hold onto their position (hierarchy) and status (power/money). Semler gives employees a lot of freedom, he wants them to get the job done on their own terms and they can blend their work life and personal life with enthusiasm and creative energy. “You can have an efficient company without rules and controls,” Semco CEO Ricardo Semler wrote in the Harvard Review in 2000. “You can be unbuttoned and creative without sacrificing profit. All it takes is faith in people.”
Leadership behaviour can have a big influence on the quality of the workplace, either bad or good. By helping people to play to their strengths and find more purpose at work, employees’ engagement and performance will increase.
Strengths are underlying personal qualities that energise us, contribute to our growth and lead to peak performance. Your strengths are natural abilities where you can perform at your best and have the biggest potential for growth. Professor Alex Linley, describes a strength as “a pre-existing capacity for a particular way of behaving, thinking or feeling that is authentic and energizing to the user, and enables optimal functioning, development and performance”.
The Corporate Leadership Council found that emphasising employee strengths in performance reviews increased performance by 36.4%. Whereas an emphasis on weaknesses caused a 26.8% decrease in performance.
Strengths are natural resources, authentic, energizing and lead to our best performance but the strengths-based approach to leadership development doesn’t ignore weaknesses or other performance risks. Strengths can
“Many leaders not only don’t understand their strengths
“To ensure a competitive advantage, senior executives have to push themselves and their teams hard. Under stress and challenges, the qualities that executives have relied on to get them to the top can ultimately lead to organizational catastrophes.” (8)
The relationship that people have with their manager is highly correlated with employee engagement.
Leaders can create the right conditions in which employees feel recognised, empowered, valued and where they have ample opportunities for growth and development. Leaders can also affect the energy and enthusiasm people have at work in positive or negative ways. Interactions with some leaders can make people feel drained while others tend to make people feel more inspired and energized.
‘A study that tracked employees moods found that the impact of negative interactions with bosses and co-workers on employees’ feelings were five times stronger than positive interactions. Negative interactions pack such a wallop in close relationships because they are so distracting, emotionally draining and deflating.’ (9)
Positive leaders look for strengths instead of mainly focusing on what should be ‘repaired’, on deficits and gaps. They place a lot of emphasis on integrity, self-awareness, authenticity and social intelligence. Social intelligence is needed at the top and middle of the organizational hierarchy. Social intelligence is the awareness of your and others’ motives and feelings (you have a sense of what makes you and others tick) and having the agility to adapt your behaviour to what the situation dictates.’ (10)
“While many employers think their goal at work is to “make people happy,” the reality is that most of us work for a reason: we want to spend our time contributing to others and creating something bigger than ourselves. This is the core concept behind meaningful work. When the work itself is empowering; when we feel we are in the right jobs; when we feel close to our team; and when we have enough time and resources to succeed—we can be happy”.(11)
I am passionate about helping people to achieve their potential, my coaching and consultancy work is anchored in positive psychology and adopts a strengths-based approach. I work with StrengthscopeLeader™, an empirically validated assessment, it helps you build greater awareness of how to lead in a way that is consistent with your strengths, as well as tackling weaker areas and other performance risks that can undermine your performance. It is part of a development programme with coaching sessions and additional resources. It will also give you insights into weaker areas and other risks to performance and the level of confidence your stakeholders (360degree feedback) have in your ability to positively impact the key outcomes essential to healthy organizational performance.
“The significant advantage of the Strengthscope tool is that it can be used in both an individual and a multi-rater format, allowing others to rate the individual’s strengths and providing data on that crucial self–other alignment.” (12)
Please contact me if you are interested and would like to know more about this approach.
1) Positive leadership, strategies for extraordinary performance – Kim Cameron
2) Buckingham & Coffman
4) Gallup research
5) Daniel Pink, Drive
6) Deloitte / Study by Buckingham and Goodall
9) Robert I. Sutton, Good boss, bad boss. How to be the best… and learn from the worst.
10) Peterson & Seligman, 2004
11) Josh Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP
12) Strength-Based Leadership: An Evidence-Based Guide to Positive Leadership Development by Doug MacKie, 2016)
Brewerton, P., & Brook, J. (2006). Strengthscope™ Technical and User’s manual. London: Strengths Partnership.