Driving Employee Engagement Through Leadership

Have you ever heard the old saying, “Your job is only as good as your manager?” There are multiple drivers of employee engagement, from pride in working for the company to having a voice in the way things operate, but the impact of the relationship with the direct manager is a constant. Research by Dale Carnegie uncovered that 80% of employees dissatisfied with their direct manager were disengaged. In essence, they reported that “employees don’t leave organizations, rather they leave people.”

Corporations care about employee engagement because it directly impacts their bottom line. Research performed by Gallup shows that engaged employees “doubled their odds of success” compared to disengaged employees. However, they also report that only 13% of employees worldwide are actually engaged at work. This means that things such as retention, performance, productivity, and customer satisfaction are all adversely impacted. Simply put, employee engagement drives results.

The best leaders understand the critical importance of engagement and the competitive advantage it creates. Below are six tactics leaders can use to drive engagement with their teams.

Foster Meaningful Relationships

Great managers inherently care about the well-being of their employees. They invest time and energy in getting to know each individual, both personally and professionally. They hold regular, scheduled one-on-ones to check in on accomplishments and how to best address opportunities. They genuinely seek to identify areas of strength so as to provide opportunities to use these strengths on the job.

Show Employees They Are Valued and Empower Them to Succeed

Everybody likes to feel appreciated for their contributions. Successful managers pay close attention for opportunities to offer recognition and praise for a job well done. Appreciation and recognition are powerful tools. The simple act of “thank you” or the sharing of positive recognition makes people feel valued and is a sign from their manager that they have faith in their ability.

Hold Themselves Accountable to Their Employees

Great leaders hold themselves accountable for the level of engagement exhibited by their team. They spend time with their employees to ensure they have meaningful goals to practice in their day-to-day experiences and then rigorously track their progress. They weave engagement into daily interactions and activities, so it becomes part of the culture.

Form High-Performing Teams Built on Trust

Employees who work in teams where there is a high degree of trust typically outperform individuals and teams who lack solid relationships. Great leaders are effective team builders. They bring together individuals to foster an environment built on trust and collaboration. Building trust between team members is the foundation for effective team building. It presents a sense of safety and allows team members to take risks for the achievement of the team.

Provide Employees with the Autonomy to be Successful

Most adults value control over the flow and pace of their job. They want to feel like they have a voice in what and how they perform their job responsibilities. Successful leaders consult with their employees to pinpoint the level of interaction they need as a way to empower the employee. They set the parameters of what is acceptable, but offer choices within them. For example, it may be perfectly acceptable for employees to set their schedule as long as they are available when clients or the team needs them.

Ask for Feedback and Make an Effort to Change

Successful leaders are open to receiving feedback from their team members, their leadership, their peers, and their customers. Feedback from others helps leaders to understand the impact (positive or negative) they have on others. A study on the Harvard Business Review blog network clearly showed a distinct link between leader effectiveness and their willingness to routinely ask for feedback.


Employee engagement is critical to an organization’s success and leaders play a defining role in shaping the level of engagement employees have.

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