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Bridging the gap

There's more than one way to lead your charges, but as Jet Xavier has discovered, some ways are more engaging than others. Here he explains the great leader-employee engagement divide and how to overcome it.

Richard Branson made an excellent point when he declared employees, not clients, should come first in business.

“If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients,” he said.

The book, The Mind of the Leader, backs this up with its extensive research,
involving 35,000 leaders, showing leaders are failing to meet employees’ need to find purpose, meaning, connection and happiness in their work.

It found 77 per cent of leaders think they engage their people. However, 88 per cent of employees report their leaders are not good with engagement.

When you consider $46 billion is spent on leadership development each year it appears there is a problem.

Why is this happening and how do we fix it?

A key reason is the increasingly heavy expectations of leaders to be almost perfect.

They have to juggle the responsibility, pressure and expectation of developing others, casting vision, reading four books a month, creating other leaders, being innovative, staying relevant and agile, watching the bottom line and dealing with their own professional and personal issues
all at the same time.

The human element has been pushed aside in favour of flavour-of-the-month leadership.

This leads to a human development, bottom line conflict that, as the research shows, fails to deliver.

There’s no engagement at employee level, which is where it counts.

This is even more pertinent for real estate leaders who work closely with their teams in a high-pressure environment where performance metrics and the bottom line matter.

So how do we get leaders to engage better with their teams and make a bigger difference?

It starts with the leader’s mind.

What type of mindset should a leader have to be their best in 2020?

“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.” – Alfred Adler.

Empathy is at the heart of the human-centred mind.

When empathy is lacking, leadership becomes a task rather than an opportunity to understand and lead the individual, via their own experience and reality.

The human-centred mind allows the leader to see past judgment and really see the human and feel what it’s like in their shoes.

This promotes a deeper emotional connection, trust, and values the person for who they are and not just what they do.

It puts the human first and profit second and allows the leader to relate at a deeper level of engagement.

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt

The heart-centred mind is what separates task-based leaders from care-based, heartcentred leaders.

With Gallup research showing disengagement can affect up to 80 per cent of employees, the care factor has become a primary focus for leaders to increase performance through a caring connection.

Heart-centred leaders want to get to know their people.

They are attentive, authentic and show genuine interest in their teams.

“The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, or gives you a sense of meaning, joy or passion.” – Terry Orlick

More than ever, employees are asking more existential questions connected to working life.

What’s my purpose? Why am I here? Is this meaningful? Is it making a difference? Is this important?

Leaders with a soul-mind connect to the higher-order purpose of the individual.

Former American president John F. Kennedy once asked a janitor at NASA
what was he doing, to which the janitor replied: “I am helping send a man to the moon”.

The janitor’s leaders were on point when it came to soul-centred leadership.

They had connected the employee to purpose and something more meaningful, that went beyond just being a janitor.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

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