The Funny Thing About Leadership

As someone who writes and speaks on the importance of employee engagement, I am always amazed at how complex some leaders make it. I’m surprised at some of the overly elaborate strategies that people look to in their attempts to boost productivity, profit, and the results that their teams deliver.

On a complex cloud migration project that I just completed, one that involved significant weekend working, and for some of the teams working un until well into the evening and often past midnight, I was again reminded about this, and also about how simple leadership can be.

In our project wrap-up meeting, everyone talked about how it was one of the best projects they had been involved in and how they would love the chance to work together again, and this was all in spite of the difficulty and the long hours worked.

When asked why this was one of the better projects they had been involved in there were some consistent themes.

The things that the team repeatedly mentioned included

  1. The project was fun
  2. They could see how we would be successful, and
  3. People felt respected

Taking care of these three simple things was what helped, to not only engage the team, but have them highly engaged, and keen to engage again.

Three simple things.

No complex strategies, no tricks or gimmicks.

Just three simple things were all that were needed to help to create a highly motivated, collaborative, and successful team.

It all starts by ensuring your teams can see how success will be achieved. People are not afraid of hard work, they are afraid of failure, and when you can show them how they will be successful it makes it much easier for them to engage.

The next step is to involve them, to ask for their contribution which helps to make them feel valued and respected. Which is integral to making them feel part of the team and that they are working with you, not for you. As the saying goes no involvement, no commitment, so taking this simple step helps to increase their commitment.

When you have a committed team and a plan that they believe in you well on your way to achieving success.

The last part is most important.

Even engaged teams need to enjoy the work because at some point there will be difficulties that can threaten the morale, and consequently the motivation. But a team that has fun and laughs together will stay together and support each other even through the most difficult times.

You have to focus on creating an environment that fosters camaraderie, cooperation, and collaboration. We spend the majority of our waking hours at work and creating a fun atmosphere is crucial to maintaining the momentum.

To be honest, if your engagement strategies don’t include these three simple things, then I’m sorry to say but they are probably going to fail.