How can you know with certainty that you are being effective as a leader? The obvious answer is through bottom-line results.
However the challenge is this: there are plenty of poor leaders who may achieve great results—at least on paper and for a short time. A leader could be a harsh and relentless driver and bully people into delivering results. Those results, however would not last and would end up causing long-term damage to the organisation.
This is why the best way to measure leadership effectiveness is through employee engagement.
Engagement is the emotional connection you have toward your workplace that motivates you to want to apply discretionary effort to your work.
The cornerstone of engagement is leadership. According to research performed by leadership experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, my colleagues and co-authors of Extraordinary Leadership in Australia and New Zealand, nothing else has statistical significance on engagement apart from the behaviour of leaders. As much as 37 percent of employee engagement can be attributed to the boss’s leadership behaviour. These behaviours include how well one leads from values and integrity, inspires a shared vision and common purpose, stays open and is continually learning, challenges themselves and others, enables and develops others, builds trusting relationships, and recognises others for great work.
When these exemplary leadership behaviours are applied, the results are tangible. Responses from more than 2.5 million people across the world show that leaders who more frequently exhibit these behaviours have employees who are significantly more committed, proud, motivated, loyal, and productive than other groups. In groups with exemplary leaders, engagement scores are 25 to 50 percent higher.
The statistics on global workplace engagement suggest we have a lot of work to do in this area. According to a 142-country study performed by Gallup, only 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work, engaged employees being defined as “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace.” In other words, only about one in eight workers are psychologically committed to their jobs.
The temptation is to blame this on the employees—to root out and ship out those who don’t want to be in the organisation. But effective leaders will look at themselves and see what they must change to inspire people to be more engaged.
Great leadership isn’t the result of people obeying your dictates. Rather, it is the result of people willingly and eagerly choosing to contribute.
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