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Why Engagement Surpasses Leadership: Introducing an Engagement & Unity Strategy

Richard Maloney
|Sep 25|magazine10 min read

When building a winning team and achieving rapid and sustainable success, it is my opinion that engagement surpasses leadership on every level.  Over 70 percent of the Australian workforce is currently disengaged. In theory, leadership should create engagement, but without actively engaged employees, the leadership message is heavily diluted.

Most leadership and management training courses are inspiring on the day, but are generally reserved for select middle and senior leaders within the business with limited follow up.  The lion’s share of people are missing out, and those that do participate are not held accountable for the long term. Trained leaders today have been overloaded with leadership theory, but too often they are not sufficiently activated, the results can’t be measured and motivation quickly fades.

Business leaders need to turn their attention to their people. Collective engagement fosters a thriving culture far more rapidly and effectively than investing focus and resources solely in leadership.  Engagement inspires leadership, and when your people are engaged, new leaders will unexpectedly emerge.

Enlightened businesses are finally starting to recognise this – replacing the traditional and exclusive leadership training model with structured, all inclusive in-house programs.

Where To Start

What to do to build a brilliant organisation? Take action. Your program must be all action based, be run in-house and include all sections of the business; everyone needs a voice and everyone needs to be held accountable.

If your organisation is larger, it can be run in teams.  Each team member makes individual and group commitments and everyone is regularly held accountable in an open and public environment:.

  1. Schedule weekly group discussions designed to create new habits, growing both the individual and the organisation as a whole.
  2. 3-month duration with set individual and team accountabilities, and an end goal focus.
  3. A proven system to uncover all participants’ personal neurological motivational touch points, as we all have different motivational drivers.

Accountability Exercise Example

Here’s an example of an activity to kick things off, designed for groups of up to 10 people.

Initiate a group discussion - how does your team believe they are perceived by others outside of the team? This may be the public, your competitors and others within the organisation.

Have each team member individually note their thoughts and concerns, and how they think the team and the organisation can be improved.

Go through each note publicly, and highlight the top two or three issues. These should be addressed first. Some examples of the issues that are commonly raised are: lack of communication; inconsistency when it comes to behaviours; the environment is negative or not enjoyable; we don’t share enough information with each other; or it’s an us against them mentality.

Once the top issues are agreed upon as a team, the group should then agree on an area of focus to improve upon each week. Ask each team member what they want to do, personally, to fix these issues. Everyone will be held accountable for 1 x Weekly Group Leadership Act, and 1 x Weekly Individual Leadership Act.

The agreed focus points must be tangible and actionable. For example, if the area of group focus for the week is ‘lack of communication’, a weekly group leadership act could be each team member taking the time to learn one interesting thing about someone in the business that they didn’t already know. An individual leadership act could be improving on time management, completing certain work flow deadlines or taking ownership of a social work event. At each meeting the team members will all be required to report back to the group on how they went with their key individual and group deliverables.  These tangible leadership acts create new and sustainable resources and habits – both individually and collectively. Once new habits are ingrained, then the group changes the weekly challenge.

Collective engagement and active accountability creates leadership; which creates a thriving culture.  This methodology underpins the success I have achieved bringing 39 teams to grand finals for 24 premiership wins, as well as dramatically improving bottom line profitability in business. ‘Knowledge dumping’ mainstream leadership training has had its day – activated leadership living is the new way.