Leaders can’t drive change alone. They must use their influence as a lever to incite action among followers. They have to direct where it matters most, and then relinquish control elsewhere so that others are empowered to make things happen. It is a delicate balance, but when leaders lead effectively, those around them…
- Sit up and pay attention
- Start thinking about what they are observing and witnessing
- Ask questions
- Offer ideas
- Brainstorm solutions to problems
- Spontaneously organize to discuss common issues or ideas
- Take action
These actions represent all the characteristics of an engaged workforce, or a group that goes beyond producing the minimum output required to keep them employed. In other words, the actions listed about are “work.” This is what most organizations want! Engaged workforces are those full of people who use their brains, all the time, to continuously improve and rejuvenate their organizations.
People in positions of power and influence have a huge effect on shaping cultures, inspiring others, and mobilizing groups to tack action. In fact, the number one predictor of successful change in organizations is the strength of sponsorship (see Prosci’s research for more information). When leaders are active and visible – speaking often and publicly about a change – people see that it is important. When leaders build coalitions of support among other influencers, the initiative is likely have more staying power and a greater chance of being implemented. When leaders invite others to take part in the process, and when they are truly open to ideas and feedback, followers feel empowered to engage, take risks, and even make mistakes.
All organizations must either grow and evolve, or risk becoming obsolete. Leadership that inspires engagement is the greatest source of power for keeping organizations vibrant and sustainable.