There is one critical action that every leader must do; engage their followers. One can have great skills, decades of experience, be the industry expert, and be published in all the elite journals but if they won’t engage their followers, they’re not leading well.
Engaging people is being connected to those you lead and meeting their needs. Taking time, listening, understanding, and caring for them. Just telling them what to do isn’t enough. If they can do their jobs without you, they still need leadership. People need someone to be invested in their success. That is the essence of leadership. That’s why mom and dad are such powerful leaders. They generally are invested in your success. At least you wish they were.
I think most leaders fall into 2 major categories. The first are those who believe they’re job is to manage systems. They use people to make those systems work well. This group sometimes neglects people except as a means to an end. Big mistake. The other category are those who understand they’re job is to lead people who will work the systems. This second group understands people are key.
Can this be learned? Can leaders be trained to engage people more? I think making a decision then having a system to engage people are two important steps to leading people. Decide now to treat people better than they deserve. Be a giver and be patient with people. If you are in a position to be a positive influence in someone’s life-do it. Then develop a system (using a calendar) to make sure you don’t neglect people.
I was in a leadership position years ago and subtly but noticeably started giving less, especially to the “problem” people. I just gave less than my best if I gave at all. The results were insidious and damaging.
Decide now to be a better leader. Absolutely be the expert about your field and on the systems. Also know that the people on your team can make or break all your success in the future.