Seventy per cent of the Australian workforce is currently disengaged at work. Clearly, we are doing something wrong as leaders. If you ask people how they honestly feel about their job, a very large proportion see it as ‘just a job’, and they do just enough to keep it. Most people don’t leave jobs solely based on money; something at some point made them disengage, the foremost being leadership.

The role of a leader should be to inspire, influence, develop, and build a clear, shared vision of the roadmap to success—also to challenge, debate, and uncover more effective ways to evolve the collective.

Through the experience of working with more than 100 teams requiring rapid and tangible success, it’s now abundantly clear that engagement surpasses leadership on all levels when building a winning team. In theory, leadership should create engagement, but this isn’t an effective strategy.

Mainstream leadership and management training courses can be great in their delivery, and incredibly inspiring at the time; however, they are generally reserved for select middle and senior leaders within the business, with limited follow-up. I liken it to taking a dirty fish from a murky pond, cleaning it down with new teachings, and returning it to the same pond. The goal, of course, is for the newly cleaned fish to come back and clean the murky pond. Not easy! Usually, a few days after a clean fish returns to a dirty pond, it inevitably loses momentum and becomes dirty once again. The pond is far too big and far too dirty for one fish to clean on its own, or with the small group that also participated in the one-off cleansing.

Trained leaders today have been overloaded with leadership knowledge and theory, but too often they are not sufficiently activated. We need to turn our attention equally to our staff, getting them actively engaged regularly through new, innovative, and inclusive methods, thus creating shared vision and buy-in. Everyone has a role to play and everyone should be fully engaged to assure sustainable success and a more profitable organisation.

When your team is engaged, then you fast-track growth, and new leaders will unexpectedly emerge. Collective engagement fosters a thriving culture far more rapidly and effectively than investing focus and training resources solely in leadership. We all like to be part of an inclusive, collaborative work environment where we feel our opinions are trusted and valued and our growth is a priority.

The first step in creating a profitable and engaged team is to assess exactly what stage each person is at. There are three types of people in your workplace.