Solving Decades Old Problems Of An Organisation Through Engaged Leadership

Charles W. Coker, PhD, SPHR

Through a simple step by step process, you can turn a negative culture into one that engages employees and creates a healthy corporate culture.

Gallup released its employee engagement poll illustrating that only 32% of full and part time employees were engaged in their work, while the actively disengaged employees reached a 9-year high. What is most disturbing about this is that for the past 3 decades organisations like the Human Capital Institute have conducted studies illustrating that companies with higher levels of engagement were not only higher in productivity, performance, and profitability, but that their profitability could be as high as 147% of what a disengaged employee workforce would produce.

Through a simple step by step process, you can turn a negative culture into one that engages employees and creates a healthy corporate culture. If your organisation is purely focused on the next quarter’s bottom line or how much capital you can raise in the next month or two you may not be open to my suggestions.

Foundational Knowledge

You must understand yourself and the people you work with.

In order to grow any organisation, according to a study completed at DePaul University, 54% of both an individual’s and organisation’s growth and development is based on humility, or a willingness to embrace feedback. To do so required the first step of Emotional Intelligence (EI), or self-awareness. Self-awareness provides a road map toward your potential and that of your employees. The problem is that many leaders misunderstand the true meaning of self-awareness.

Self-awareness is not just understanding yourself, but understanding yourself from the context of the people you lead. Only then will you be able to interact appropriately with those you lead.  

Multiple studies prove that the higher the EI, the more productive the employee and the greater success in leadership roles.

Begin with People Data

Without data you will not understand your own propensities, your employees or how each person impacts other team members. Are you more leadership oriented or more management oriented? People with leadership propensities tend to build strong relationships and come off with softer, more caring language but often struggle getting things done. On the other hand, managers can push through tasks, despite the obstacles, but often have the propensity to offend others with their directness.

Defining Interactional Differences

Interactive leadership is motivating and inspirational, but it requires a leader to engage with their employees to heighten their understanding of the existing conditions of a business. In this way they can collectively assist in addressing those conditions through engagement and capacity development which will inspire them to complete the tasks appropriately and in a timely manner.

On the other hand, Interactional Management is not autocratic. It emphasises completing tasks but does so through communication and integration of all human aspects (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual), creating an empowered, high-energy, highly productive workforce. 

To define where you and your employees fall on either or both scales, you must know definitively where their behaviours and mindset fall on each scale. In doing so, you save months of trial and error as a leader.

Here are some tips for the individual who is more management oriented to become more inspirational:

  • On a day-to-day basis: Build controlled accessibility into your schedule and never miss an opportunity to “make a hero” of one of your employees.
  • When you are Interacting with your team: When asking them for help, tell them why and when answering questions and making decisions, frame your response illustrating how their role impacts the company’s mission, vision, and values.


If you are more leadership oriented, here are a couple of suggestions to help ensure the task is done:

  • Increase the number of one-on-one meetings and assign new responsibilities as recognition for success.
  • Set SMART goals for your team.

 As a leader, engagement is your responsibility –your greatest responsibility!

You may have heard that “people don’t quit a job, they quit a boss.” Unfortunately, this is true, and it’s backed by the numbers:

  • 70% of employees quit because they dislike their boss.
  • The rest feel either disengaged or unappreciated.

 Your organisation’s team engagement will be instrumental for the success of your team.

Charles W. Coker, PhD, SPHR

CEO LifeThrive Performance Systems