Employee engagement levels have been dismal for several years, and Gallup predicts that we will continue to see this trend over the next year. This is a significant problem because engaged employees are more productive, committed, and loyal to your company. The best way to increase employee engagement is by being a better leader.
Being a better leader is about more than simply delegating tasks and overseeing their completion (if only it can be this straightforward). It’s about building a team of employees that respects you, trusts you, and feels empowered to work toward your company’s goals.
Here are three tips to become a better leader:
Tip 1 – Run Productive Meetings
Meetings are helpful for brainstorming, strategizing and problem-solving. But they can also be a significant drain on productivity. Meetings that go off track or take too long to decide can frustrate employees and negativity impact morale. At the same time, skipping meetings altogether can cause employees to become disengaged or disconnected from the company’s mission and goals.
Some suggestions to run a productive meeting:
- Only invite the people who absolutely need to be in the room. Come prepared with an agenda. Have a clear idea of what you want to discuss and how much time you want to spend on each topic.
- Make sure everyone else comes prepared, too. Send out the agenda beforehand and ask other attendees to bring their ideas or suggestions for discussion.
- Keep the meeting short and focused on its objective. If the conversation starts to stray from the topic at hand, gently steer things back on track. Include time at the end of the meeting for follow-up questions and next steps.
Tip 2 – Be Truly Present With Your Employees, Moment By Moment
Despite our best intentions, it’s easy to let deadlines, meetings or other things clutter our attention so that sometimes we’re not sure we’ve paid enough attention to the people around us. It’s already tricky to know what employees are thinking about, what’s troubling them or how to help them get out of a performance slump, more so when the leaders’ minds are elsewhere, they won’t have the time to find out what their employees need.
Being present is a leadership responsibility that does not appear in the job description, but it is a hallmark of good leadership. It means being attentive and responsive to what employees need, not just physically but mentally. The present leader can sense when an employee needs a little help or support and responds by providing it. Being genuinely present means not being distracted. This means that the leader has to focus not on other distractions such as looking at mobile, checking on important projects that need immediate attention, or thinking of other stuff while the employee is speaking.
Being genuinely present requires leaders to take the time to listen. Listening goes well beyond being quiet and giving someone your full attention. It needs leaders to be aware of body language, facial expressions, mood, and natural behavioural tendencies. When your employees sense their leaders are present, they feel more valued, motivated and engaged.
Tip 3 – Say “We”, Not “I”
When people think of leaders, they often envision someone powerful who stands out from the crowd. But in reality, leadership is not about authority and ego; it’s about collaboration and bringing the best out of people.
As the saying goes, “There’s no ‘I’ in a team.” The same can be said of leadership. Leaders should avoid using words like “me,” “my,” or “I” when talking about achievements. Instead, they should use words like “we,” “us,” or “our” because leading is more about inspiring a group to work toward a shared vision than it is about taking personal credit for any successes.
“I” statements can be alienating, but “we” statements bring people together and make them feel like an essential part of the team. The word “I” is a small word with enormous implications.
Leaders must never forget that they’re part of a larger team. Even if they are making the final decisions, it’s their responsibility to incorporate as much feedback from their team members as possible.
The best leaders are also humble enough to know that sometimes others have better ideas than they do. They don’t claim credit for their employees’ great ideas or successes but instead celebrate those achievements openly with their teams.
When leaders focus too much on themselves — their ideas, expertise, and accomplishments — they can alienate their employees.
Leaders should use “I” sparingly and “we” because it makes employees feel like they’re a part of the team and reinforces that everyone is working together to achieve a common goal.
Leadership is a journey, a process you can always get better at. There are no shortcuts or tricks to being an effective leader—it takes time, hard work and effort to become one truly. No matter where you start, even if you’re beginning to take those first steps towards leadership, the information in this post can help you gain the valuable experience and skills necessary to be an effective leader to lead your team to tremendous success.