How Leaders Engage

What is your responsibility? YOU. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have everything you need to get a job done. If you need tools, get them. If you need information, find it, or ask someone. Do not wait for tools and information to just come to you, and then blame others for not getting them. That is the act of a disengaged leader, not a highly effective leader.

Taking ownership of the team, and the results that the team produce is what a highly effective leader does. He/she will engage with others in the team, and be engaged enough to go the extra mile.

In other words, they do more than the expectations of their team leader, or the expectations of the organisation.

1. Taking Responsibility

A highly effective leader will not rely on anybody else, either within their team, or from outside their team to take responsibility for the team’s results. If they did, they would not be highly effective.

A highly effective leader will always share the information they have that the team need. They will not guard it, or wait for one of their teammates to come and ask them for it.

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They are engaged enough to know what the team needs, and then will engage with the team by providing what the team needs before they need it. If a highly effective leader needs information themselves, they will engage with the people who have this information and ask them for it.

They will not wait for someone to approach them to give them the information, and most of all they will not blame others for not providing the information they require.

A highly effective leader is very deliberate when seeking out information, and by engaging with the right people, they will get what they need.

In the team you are currently in, who are the most engaged teammates? What level of engagement do you have with your teammates, and your organisation? If your leader had a team of highly effective, fully engaged leaders, imagine what you could achieve.

When a low performing leader has information that their team needs, they like to hold onto it and guard it. They do this because they think that by providing others with information that will help the team, will actually help others get ahead of them. It is a very paranoid mindset that they have in these cases.

Even if a teammate asks them for this information, it will be a strain for them to give it to them. However, when a low performing leader needs information that will help them, they expect a teammate to approach them to give it to them.

They will not seek out the information for themselves. By doing this, it gives them an excuse to blame others for not providing them with the information they required. They think by blaming others, it takes the bad light off them and onto the team.

2. Low Performing Leader

When actually, most people can see through their excuses. This is an extremely disengaged attitude of a low performing leader.

I have first-hand experience of being part of teams and leading teams of how disengaged teammates behave.

For example, you will hear low performing leaders saying things like, “Nobody told me, so how am I supposed to know?” “Didn’t you know that I needed to know that?” “You should have told me earlier, not today.” “I’m sorry, but that’s not my responsibility.”

You have probably heard similar statements to these yourself. You may have said these yourself. I know I used to say them before I started to work on myself.

One thing I have realised over the years, especially in the engineering industry, is that people are very reluctant to go the extra mile unless they are paid to. I have worked in engineering teams that worked shifts.

By working shifts, it meant you would get paid overtime if you did extra hours. So, whenever we were asked to stay on extra hours, we would gladly do it because we got paid time and a half, or sometimes double time.

However, when we were taken off shift, and moved to just salary based, it meant there was no more overtime. So, whenever we were asked to do extra hours, we ALWAYS said, “No way” because we were not being paid for it. That is a low performing team, and an extremely disengaged team.

If you hear one of your teammates say things like, “I’m only here to get paid.” Or, “I’m not doing that, it’s not my job or in my job description.” Then you will know they are low performing leaders, and are disengaged with what the team is trying to achieve.

It’s very sad to hear people who are on your team say things like that. They are basically admitting that they are happy to stand back and let the rest of the team do the tasks that they know they can perform.

They are admitting that they don’t care if the team achieves good results or not. They do not care about anybody else but themselves. Are you ok with having people like that on your team?

I ask that question because I am not ok with people on my team behaving this way. By being disengaged with the team, and what the organisation is trying to achieve, they are not helping anyone. Especially themselves.

A low performing leader is never going to be offered any new opportunities, pay rises, or job promotions. They actually think the reason they are not being offered these things is because of other people.

So they blame others for their own shortcomings, which is completely wrong. The fact that they are still in their job after a number of years of behaving in such a way is a miracle in my eyes.

3. Becoming More Engaged

As a highly effective leader it is your responsibility try to help the disengaged become more engaged into what the team is trying to achieve, why the team is trying to achieve it, and ultimately what the organisation is trying to achieve. So, how do you do that?

Well, we must try to understand why the disengaged person feels and behaves in such a way. What is it that is driving them to be like that? Why are they not engaging like we are as highly effective leaders?

Sit down with them and have that conversation with them. As a highly effective leader, you are a leader, so it is your job to listen to the person to understand what it is. Then react to what you now understand with some actions that you are going to take to help them.

Remember, as we spoke about earlier, it is about HELPING them to become more engaged. That could be taking them under your wing, and leading by example. Explaining why you are an engaged person, and why you want to achieve great results. Doing whatever we can to help them change their attitude.

I was once a disengaged person, and I used to blame anyone but myself for things that didn’t happen in my life, not only at work either. I was focussed on blame, and I did not take ownership for anything. I actually believed that anything negative that happened in my life was someone else’s fault.

That was until I started working on myself every day, and took ownership for my life. After all it is MY LIFE. That is what a low performing and disengaged leader needs to realise. And we need to help them realise that, and then offer more help so that they can become engaged.

I received help from my teammates and also my mentor Ron who you now know about. This is your opportunity to do the same with any negative, or disengaged people you know or work with.

4. Helping Your Teammates

When you can help a person to become more engaged, you will start to see differences in that person. They will stop blaming others, especially teammates. But, most of all, they will become more of a positive person, and will try to help others to become more engaged.

It is a snowball effect, and it is very addictive. I say that because when you see the differences in the person you have helped, you want to do it again and again.

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Being a positive, highly effective leader is how it starts. Turning a negative attitude into a positive attitude is how it begins with becoming more engaged. If you can do that first, the rest is easy.

When you help a person change, just watch to see how much they want to change things for the better. The person who would gladly stand back and watch the rest of the team do the work, is now on the front lines trying to be involved in everything.

The person who would not go the extra mile because they were not getting paid, is now going miles and miles whether they get paid or not.

The feeling when you see that change in a person because of your help is amazing. Do you want that feeling, and do want to see that change in your team?

A highly effective leader is a very productive person. Productive people are looked upon as leaders. How productive are you? Would you consider yourself a leader?

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

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All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

10 thoughts on “How Leaders Engage

  1. One of my early managers taught me a strong lesson. If you have a reason I want to hear it if you have an excuse you won’t be here long.. The truth be told I found very few reasons after that and stopped making excuses. This shaped a journey of finding ways and led to a lot of success.

    1. Hi Andy,

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with past managers, I am so pleased that this article resonated with you in a positive way.

      Keep moving forward on your leadership journey and take people with you on that journey, and help them with their leadership skills too.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Excellent article on taking responsibility. Thanks so much for these insights. It’s ironic that we may think we are getting away with something by avoiding taking responsibility and blaming other people or circumstances, but it disempowers us from achieving all of which we are capable. Appreciate this information very much.

    1. Hi Joseph,

      I appreciate you contributing to my article once again, means the world to me.

      Keep taking responsibility for yourself and don’t look outward. As a leader, we must look within ourselves and take that ownership. By doing this we are leading by example.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. Tom – you have put together some great information about leadership here. I can look back on my business career and clearly see the times when I was a low level leader. I would often place the blame on my staff when things went wrong.

    I was young when I started my business, I did not even know that leadership was a topic or something to work on every day. The lights came on for me later in life, I discovered some of the leadership experts like John Maxwell, Zig Ziglar, and so many more.

    The biggest takeaway for me is this: Leadership starts with me. I must lead myself first to be an effective leader to others. Walking along side someone instead of pulling them forward or pushing them from behind is my style.

    Your section about helping your teammates was spot on.

    1. Hi Scott,

      It is great that my article has helped you reflect on your leadership career and how you can improve it in the future.

      Keep working on yourself every day to become the best leader you can be for your people, and the leader you wish you had in the past.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. I found this article very insightful and motivating. As someone who has always struggled with leadership skills, I thought leadership was a trait only certain people possessed or were born with. This article has helped me understand that leadership is a learned skill, not an inherent quality. The emphasis on personal responsibility and proactive engagement resonated deeply with me. I realize now that taking ownership of my tasks and actively seeking out the information I need, rather than waiting, can significantly improve my effectiveness.

    The idea of helping disengaged teammates become more engaged is particularly inspiring. It shows how important it is to foster a positive and proactive team environment. The personal journey shared in the article about transitioning from a disengaged to an engaged leader gives me hope that I can also develop these skills. However, I’m still quite scared of stepping into a leadership role. Practical advice on acquiring and developing these skills as a beginner would be incredibly helpful. This article has encouraged me to reflect on my behaviors and strive to be a more effective leader. Thank you for sharing these valuable insights.

    1. Hi Zahra,

      I am very pleased that you found this article motivating, I hope you can act upon what you have learned and share it with others.

      You are right, leadership is a learned skill. All leaders are born obviously, but they are not born with natural leadership skills. They have had to learn those skills over their lifetime.

      I hope you can keep working on yourself, and helping your disengaged teammates to work on themselves too.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. Tom
    How Leaders Engage is a well-written article. No effective leader can engage with their team and get the best out of them without taking personal responsibility, and they should be encouraging their team to take responsibility, as well

    One reason they share information and don’t hold on to it is that they know they do not need external validation on any level. They are comfortable in their own skin. Thanks for sharing this wisdom

    1. Hi Catherine,

      I appreciate your comment and your kind words.

      I hope you can take what you learn from this article, take action on it and share what you learn with your own people.

      All the best,

      Tom

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