A couple of weeks ago I wrote about our research project with Deakin Uni, where we measured the levels of engagement of 2700+ employees across Australia. I explained that the number one driver of engagement was the degree to which leaders encouraged staff to make their own decisions. Click here to see that post.
We discovered that the second most powerful leadership driver of engagement was the degree to which leaders were optimistic, positive and future focussed. This is a little mentioned aspect of leadership in the textbooks, but the research world is starting to realise how important it is. In fact, you can do everything else right as a leader, but if you are pessimistic, cynical or negative people will not want to follow you. Leadership evolved as a way of followers assuring themselves of a better future, so why would anyone follow someone who is a pessimist?
- Focus on the future and work with staff to create a clear perception of what that future will look like
- Show confidence that staff have the capability to achieve this bright future
- Move on quickly from negative experiences, focussing on learnings and improvements rather than what went wrong
- Never fall into the cynicism trap. They relentlessly focus on opportunity and recruit staff who take the same view.
You can find out whether your leaders have this key capability with our 360 Degree Feedback instrument for measuring this.
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