Leadership, engaging or engaged ?

“It’s not just engaging others; it is equally as important to stay engaged yourself, particularly when leading major change.”

I found myself saying that recently to one of the directors of an organisation which launched a major change initiative just over eighteen months ago. The change was considerable, involving a change of leadership; of location; with new staff, many at senior level; and new ways of working.

Culturally such change was always going to be difficult. The attitude and behaviour of staff to any change, was always going to be challenging. Recent history bore the scars of a painful failure of leadership, to implement change effectively.

The simple fact is that change requires good leadership. Leadership which shares a clear vision of the future understands where they want the organisation to be. Leadership which has a clear and intelligent sense of what needs to be done to get there, and one which role models the the behaviours and values such a journey will need.

For the CEO this means not only being the catalyst of change; they should be the owner of the vision of the future. They need to be engaging and inspiring others to help co-create the strategies required to make it happen; but above all, they themselves must stay engaged.

All too often we see change initiatives fail because the executive fail to understand the time it takes for true cultural change to take effect. They move on to other things, in other directions; assuming that the reports, and busyness of the organisation means that everything is moving forward, in the right direction.

Leadership for change requires the Executive to be constantly visible; role-models of the future; leading by example; constantly taking stock.

The reality is that perhaps during this process the leaders need to look more closely than ever at themselves. Indeed perhaps they have to change themselves as much if not more than others.

Superstorm Sandy Engaging Leadership

Source: The Telegraph www.telegraph.co.uk

I was watching the news, looking at the destruction and havoc caused by Superstorm Sandy as it swept across the southern states of America; when there he was, President Obama, in his jacket and jeans running down the steps of Airforce One on to the tarmac in New Jersey.

This was not the normal, formal picture of the President; it was not even the image we occasionally see, of him off duty! This was the President showing the world and the American people, that he was in control, and that he was going to lead by example.

The result and the pictures that followed of him comforting ordinary people, said that here is a man showing that he cares, that he is committed to supporting people; that he is leading. The outcome was that even one of his most staunch critics, Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, could only look on in admiration and say “It’s really important to have the President of the United States here!”

The quality of our leadership, and the way we conduct ourselves as leaders, is a crucial factor in our ability to engage people; to create that vital emotional attachment to us as their leader and to the organisation we lead.

It’s engagement that motivates and energises people to do things because they want to, rather than to do them because they have to.  To want to give more, do more; go that extra distance. This isn’t rocket science, we all know this, but how often do we really think about our leadership, and the impact it has on those we lead. How often do we ask ourselves,  are our people engaged , motivated and inspired?  As leaders, let’s not forget that it is within our grasp, our responsibility, to do this.

The storm gave America the chance to see Obama being the President, and it looked good, it looked engaging, it looked inspirational.