An engaged leader facilitates, strengthens, connects, and inspires employees to increase their work engagement. Having engaged employees means they are happy and productive employees, and today’s leaders need to have the skills to foster engagement. HFA spoke with Lorri Kelley, owner of Lorri Kelley Advisors and a home furnishing industry leader, to talk about the skills needed to be an engaged leader, and she outlined four key areas that will help any business.
#1 Be an exceptional listener
As a leader, we often have so many things we want to discuss in a one-on-one meeting that we don’t take the time to be quiet and let them talk. If you pose a question or want their feedback, listen to what they tell you! With every one-on-one you have, you should always come away with a list of challenges or things you want to help them work through. I am a big fan of scheduled one-on-ones, whether weekly, every other week, or monthly. They can be an hour or 30 minutes, but that is a time for you to sit, talk, and listen! Through this listening skill, you show that you are genuinely interested in them and very appreciative of what they do and provide to your company.
#2 Lead by example
This term is often overused but is the quickest way to get to what I want to convey. Nobody wants to work for anybody that tells you what to do, and then they go and disappear. It’s your business, and when your employees see you rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work plus showing them, you are at their side as you teach and coach them. I’ve had bosses in the past that inspired me, but at the end of the day, I knew I did the hard work and heavy lifting, and they took most of the credit. An engaged leader will work with you side by side.
#3 Being empathetic
Being an engaged leader means understanding your employees’ needs, being aware of their feelings and thoughts, and trusting in them. But trust is a two-way street; not only do you need to trust them, but they need to trust in you too! The best way to build trust is to show genuine concern about their wellbeing.
#4 Foster Collaboration
Being empathetic and connecting with your team is a needed skill of an engaged leader. No matter how many people you lead, 5, 50, or 500 people, how can you collectively collaborate and personify the saying, “Working together as a team to make the business better.” People generally want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and feel like they have a role in the go-forward plan. I have the experience that people like to be with other people; we all want to be with others and be a part of a team. Most companies work in silos and are never as successful as those that work with a centralized leader that inspires the togetherness as a team for a common set of goals. The best part is inspiring the team, getting out of the way, letting it happen, and praising them for what they do.
Whether you are a small business owner, department director, or manager, these skills are crucial to keeping your workforce happy and engaged. Engaged leaders connect and stabilize their employees by listening, doing the work, caring, and unifying their people.
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