Leadership Behaviours Influence Employee Engagement

Organisational leaders play a critical role in employee engagement. Their behaviours and values have a direct impact on how engaged employees are with their work and the organisation as a whole. 

A study by the Institute for Employment Studies found that one of the main reasons why employees leave organisations is because they feel that their leaders have failed to live up to their values. In fact, over 60% of respondents said that they would leave an organisation if its leaders were not living up to its values.

The authors of "The Leadership Challenge®, James Kouzes, and Barry Posner cited: "Values are guiding principles. They help you determine what is important to you. They provide a sense of direction, and they motivate and inspire you. Shared values are especially powerful because they give people a sense of community and purpose." When you live by your values, you not only set an example for others, but you also create a more positive and productive workplace.

One of the 8 essentials of Real Leadership is Character that is  built on morals, ethics and noble values for the greater good of the community. Real leaders are applauded for their pro-social behaviors.  They inspire their constituents to embrace positive thinking and demonstrate nobility to make the world a better place. 

Authors of Real Leaders, Dr. Peter Cheng and Dr. Lily Cheng found that real leaders demonstrate noble values, not just values.  By virtue of this, real leaders ensure their values are intertwined with the ethical and moral principles which are precursors to ensuring a common good is achieved. 

Most organisations promote values that are good for themselves internally. However, some might have values that are not ideal for the greater community good. Hence, it is paramount for leaders to first have an alignment with their organisation’s values (assuming the values do not flow against the common good of the community) before trying to exemplify the values. 

When leaders behave contrary to their professed values, they will lose the trust and respect of their constituents. A study by the Harvard Business Review found that when employees perceive their leaders as not behaving in accordance with organisational values, it can lead to a decrease in job satisfaction, commitment, and engagement, and an increase in turnover intention and create a negative ripple effect throughout the organisation. 

As such, it is essential for leaders to ensure that they are living up to their values and setting an example for their employees to effectively engage, inspire and transform their constituents to achieve organisational outcomes. 

Exemplifying values is liken to leaders modeling the way for their people to guide their behaviours as they go about their daily work in their organisation. 

Kouzes and Posner found that leaders have two commitments when it comes to modeling the way for their people. 

1. Clarify values by finding your voice and affirming shared values

 In clarify values, leaders ask themselves,. “What is important to me?  What do I  believe in?”  Adding from the findings of Real Leaders, you would ask “Does what I believe in also promote the greater good of the community?” Once you have a good understanding of your own values and ensure that the values not just values but noble values, it is important to also listen to the values of others and discover shared values with your constituents. 

Oftentimes, organisational values are presented in a general descriptions. To ensure your constituents are clear about the shared values, leaders need to articulate behavioural statements for each value. Clearly articulated values will shine light on behaviours that are derailed and help the leaders and their constituents get back on track. 

2. Set the example by aligning actions with shared values.

Since values are behaviour-based, it is imperative for leaders to live out the espoused shared values for others to follow.  If you believe in honesty, integrity, and hard work, then let your actions reflect that. Another way to affirm shared values is through company policies and procedures. By having guidelines in place that reinforce desired values, you can help create a culture of shared values.

Nothing convinces the constituents more about values than seeing their leaders exemplifying the values. Hence, when a leader’s actions are aligned with the shared values, the constituents will find their leader credible worthwhile being followed.

There is no question that employee engagement is influenced by the behaviours of leaders. After all, employees look to their leaders for guidance and direction. If leaders are not behaving in ways that promote engagement, it is likely that employees will follow suit. 

To learn more about how to model the way contact us at connect@pace-od.com

For more on the Leadership Challenge visit https://www.pace-od.com/solutions/the-leadership-challenge 

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