Effective Leaders Focus on Follower Engagement

The posts on this blog have been primarily about effective behaviors of good leadership. But leaders do not exist in a vacuum, and it’s important to remember that much of the work in a high-achieving organization is accomplished by the “followers.” The readings on this site focus on things leaders do to keep those followers engaged and motivated. Let’s take a moment to look at the big picture of follower engagement. I know that sounds like a buzzword, but you can call it whatever you like; keeping people happy, firing people up, making people feel loved, keeping them on your side, maintaining loyalty, whatever.

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Effective Leaders have Vision, but what IS “Vision”?!

Many people believe that leaders carry the inherent characteristic of being “visionary”. This is true, but the concept of vision is “out there”, esoteric, and can be hard to grasp.

So, how can you “teach” vision? Aren’t visionary leaders somehow “special” in that regard?

(If you’ve been part of a Group Dynamic leadership workshop, forgive this content. This is an exercise that you’ve already done, so it may be redundant for you, but feel free to pass this on to someone who you think needs it!)

OK, let’s make this concept of vision easier, more concrete, more actionable, and more “learn-able”.

First, a working definition of “vision” as it applies to leaders:

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Effective Leaders Pause and Listen

This morning, I read an article in T+D by Nance Guilmartin about the importance of cultivating humility in an organization’s leaders.

She poses a great question:

“What don’t I know I don’t know?”

Putting the needs of others first, and acting in support of your organization are key elements of servant leadership. That’s basic.

But there can be an arrogance there, too. You can assume that you know what is needed – because you’re the leader, and you ought to know.

This is what Peter Block refers to as a paternalistic view of leadership — “taking care” of people who “don’t know better” as opposed to a true commitment to learning what is needed.

Example:

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Leaders increase effectiveness by changing things up

I’ve been reading about the Adaptation Principle. This can take on many forms depending on the venue (it’s very popular in exercise physiology), but in organizations it goes something like this:

When we get used to things, we don’t notice them as much. We also don’t think about their meaning.

Examples:

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