What has the greatest impact on employee engagement? Salary? Benefits? Perks? Free snacks in the break-room? Nope, it’s managers. According to a Gallup report, “The State of the American Manager,” the difference between a bad manager and a good manager can account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. That same study reports that 1 in 2 employees has left a job to get away from a bad manager. When you look at the data, it becomes apparent that a key element to employee engagement is good management. Yet, when you realize that less than half the employees in the US report they feel engaged at work, a number that has remained steady for the last 12 years, it seems that many managers are falling short of that mark.
Often times, employees are promoted to management roles because of good job performance and not based on their ability to lead. To be an effective manager it is not enough to know what should be done in order to get the desired results but also how it actually gets done. The most effective leaders exercise conscious leadership. Not only do they have good business sense, they have certain qualities that allow them to effectively engage their teams and lead them to success. Here are some qualities that are present in conscious leaders.
Highly Communicative and Collaborative: Leaders need to be able to communicate the goals of the organization effectively and be able to listen to the thoughts and ideas of those around them. They have both intrapersonal intelligence (they are in touch with their own thoughts and feelings) and interpersonal intelligence (they are aware of the moods and feelings of others). This emotional intelligence (EI) allows them to create a culture with high morale, employee engagement, and productivity.
Authentic: Authenticity comes through when leaders not only do what they say they are going to do, but also when they can admit their mistakes and show vulnerability. This quality goes a long way in building trust among a team. When a leader can show their authentic selves, their team can be inspired to be more authentic as well.
Curious and Forward Thinking: Conscious leaders embrace change and innovation. They seek out new or more efficient ways of doing things. They are eager to improve their existing skill set and open to improving or learning new skills. They challenge traditional thinking by asking questions not only of themselves, but of their team, and welcome creativity and experimentation. They are always asking “why?” and “what if?”.
Self-Aware: Self-awareness is a learned behavior and conscious leaders recognize both their positive and negative emotions. They know what motivates themselves and what they need to do to remain happy and engaged with work. When they encounter adversity, they are able to recognize if their reaction is fear or anger based and can pivot to a more positive response. This positive energy is contagious, and by example, they can show their team how to react in more positive ways.
Conscious leadership is a departure from old-school, authoritarian leadership models. When a conscious leader can model the behaviors above and mentor and challenge their team to adopt those behaviors, the organization succeeds. Conscious leaders motivate, inspire, build relationships, and are able to drive positive outcomes.