Leadership matters. Studies suggest that leaders who are engaged also tend to be the most effective (Shaffer, 2007). Of course, this conclusion only leads to more questions: What does engagement look like? How do we effectively connect in the workplace? How do we drive results?

Engaged leaders are easy to recognize

Leaders who connect with their teams and organizations are consistent, competent, and impactful people who are also strong communicators. They demonstrate a clear understanding of organizational strategies, goals, and systems, while they engage their teams and people. They understand both context and culture (Weiss, 2014). Simply put, they are engaged, aligned, and help people “connect the dots” in their organization. Effective leadership, communication, and engagement are natural outcomes of engaged leaders and drive positive results for those who are led.

These leadership styles drive engagement.

Servant and transformational leadership are two styles that drive engagement. Servant-leaders desire to serve, enrich the lives of others, and display a high level of commitment to helping others and their organization succeed (Greenleaf, n.d.). Transformational leaders model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and provide encouragement (Weiss, 2014). Servant and transformational leaders drive results, uplift people, champion asset utilization, and help shape and grow the organization. These styles are easy to recognize. They “talk the walk and walk the talk,” understanding that people are observing and emulating them at all levels. Leaders utilizing these styles value people, create inclusiveness, and always recognize that the sum is greater than the parts

Help Your People Connect the Dots

Staying engaged is essential. According to Shweta Khare (2017), “Research shows that employees who enjoy and engage with their work are more likely to produce good results, advance in their careers, and express greater overall happiness on the job. Staying engaged at work is essential for productivity and finding satisfaction at work” (para 1). Engagement with your leaders, peers, and employees is an essential component for success. If you want your team members to be more engaged and productive, help them connect the dots so that they understand the bigger picture. Involve them in the running of the business, help them make decisions, and make sure they understand WIIFM (what’s in it for me).

Encourage Engagement

Engagement does not exist without conscious effort; it must be practiced and reinforced continually. According to Shaffer (2007), engagement has four primary components: line of sight, involvement, information sharing, and rewards and recognition.

  1. Line of Sight: Line of sight means that the people can see a direct line between the organization’s goals and what they do. Schaffer’s (2000) research elucidates that employees with line of sight “see the bigger picture. They can connect the dots between what they do and the ultimate impact they have” (p. 30).
  2. Involvement: Involvement is the extent to which people are involved with the means to influence the organization (its systems, processes, inclusivity, etc.). As a leader, you create inclusion, gather and value people’s ideas, consider those ideas, analyze, and in many cases implement ideas woven together with other people’s input (Schaffer, 2000).
  3. Information Sharing: Transparency of information throughout an organization is vital. Schaffer (2000) explains, “You can hire the best people in the world. You can train them within an inch of their lives. But if they don’t have regular, ongoing access to information, they won’t be able to make smart decisions” (p.32). 
  4. Rewards and Recognition: Rewards and recognition systems are equally crucial to the communication process. These components answer the questions “What’s in it for me?” and “How will I benefit if I do things that will help our business succeed?” (Schaffer, 2000).

Going forward, stay engaged and strive to build positive relationships and engagement with everyone. According to Negroni and Ebner (2016), “Everything revolves around relationships. Ultimately, everything–from money and knowledge to power and love–boils down to interacting with other people. We are all human beings, and human beings need relationships to survive” (p, 35-36).

Learn more about building a foundation in business leadership.



Written by Bill Davis, MA, CM, Core Faculty and Faculty Senator in the Forbes School of Business and Technology™, and Martin McAuliffe, JD, Assistant Professor in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Arizona Global Campus.



Greenleaf, R. (n.d.). Center for Servant Leadership. Retrieved March 2, 2017, from https://www.greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/

Khare, S. (2017). Staying engaged at work: Why you’re distracted and how to refocus. Retrieved March 2, 2017, from http://careerbright.com/career-self-help/staying-engaged-work-youre-distracted-refocus

Maxwell, J. (2007). Lessons on Leadership, Duluth, GA: Maximum Impact

Negroni, D. & Eber, J. (2016). Chasing Relevance. San Diego, CA. Launchbox, Inc.

Shaffer, J. (2000). The Leadership Solution. New York, NY. McGraw Hill

Weiss, J. (2014). An Introduction to Leadership (2nded) San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

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