How Organisations Improve Employee Engagement with Emotionally Engaged Leaders

5 minutes read
Sinakho Dhlamini
Content Marketing Specialist
By Sinakho Dhlamini, HR Content Specialist, Top Employers Institute

The world of work is permanently active. The business landscape is fast-paced and ever-evolving, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of employee engagement. Employee engagement is a critical factor in an organisation’s success.

Engaged employees are more motivated, productive and stay in organisations longer, leading to higher levels of innovation and overall performance. One of the critical drivers of employee engagement is the presence of emotionally engaged leaders.

In this article, we will explore how emotional intelligence makes a leader emotionally engaged and how it impacts employees and their engagement levels.

Managers have a more considerable impact on people’s mental health than doctors and even therapists. Leaders that are emotionally engaged are better able to create a positive, supportive and psychologically safe work environment, which can improve employee wellbeing and employee engagement. 

What is Emotional Intelligence?

In 1995, in the book Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goleman, the psychologist that coined the term defined emotional intelligence as a set of skills that help individuals recognise, understand and manage their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. While emotional intelligence is usually emphasised more in personal relationships, it is critical to realise that emotional intelligence or a lack of it, also is essential at work.

In Emotional Intelligence, Goleman identified four traits of emotional intelligence, which are:

  1. Self-Awareness: It is believed that the first step in developing emotional intelligence is self-awareness. Leaders and management should take time to understand the impact of their behaviour by reflecting on their own emotions. This needs to be done across different situations so that they have a fuller understanding. 
  2. Self-Management: The next step for leaders becoming emotionally intelligent comes from developing ways to manage their emotions; this can only come after becoming more self-aware. Self-management involves learning and using skills like stress management and mindfulness. If a leader is to engage with these skills, they must also practice active listening when interacting with coworkers.
  3. Social Awareness: Leaders making an effort to become emotionally intelligent will need to develop the ability to understand and empathise with other people’s perspectives; this is especially important as more and more organisations become more diverse than before.
  4. Relationship Management: The fourth trait of an emotionally intelligent leader is one of the most critical, and it relies on the other characteristics to truly achieve it. Relationship management uses emotional intelligence to build and maintain positive relationships, resolve conflicts, and influence and inspire others to achieve common goals.

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What is an Emotionally Engaged Leader?

Emotionally engaged leaders are individuals who genuinely care about their team members, their wellbeing, and their professional development. These leaders demonstrate empathy, active listening skills, and emotional intelligence. They create a supportive atmosphere where employees feel valued, heard, and motivated to perform at their best. Emotionally engaged leaders also foster a sense of purpose and alignment by effectively communicating the organisation’s vision, goals, and values.

Three Ways that Emotionally Engaged Leaders Impact Employees

  1. Trust and Transparency: Emotionally engaged leaders establish an environment of trust and transparency by being open and honest with their team members. This cultivates a sense of psychological safety, encouraging employees to share ideas, express concerns, and take risks without fear of negative consequences.
  2. Personal and Professional Growth: Emotionally engaged leaders invest in their employee’s growth and development. They provide mentoring, coaching, and opportunities for learning and advancement. This commitment to individual growth enhances employee skills and knowledge and demonstrates that the organisation values their long-term success.
  3. Motivation and Empowerment: Emotionally engaged leaders inspire and motivate their employees by recognising their achievements and providing constructive feedback. They empower their team members to make decisions, take ownership of their work, and contribute meaningfully to the organisation’s goals. This sense of autonomy increases job satisfaction and engagement.

Read More: Winning the Battles for Talent

How to Improve Employee Engagement with Emotionally Engaged Leaders

Understanding what makes a leader emotionally intelligent is essential; it is even more critical to see how they can improve employee engagement more concretely. We have four strategies that organisations can use to engage their employees with the help of emotionally engaged leaders:

  1. Encourage Open Communication: Promote open communication channels within the organisation, allowing employees to voice their opinions, concerns, and ideas. Emotionally engaged leaders actively listen to their employees insights, seek their input, and take appropriate actions based on their feedback.
  2. Leadership Development Programs: Organisations can implement programs focusing on emotional intelligence, empathy, and effective communication. These programs help leaders develop the skills necessary to connect with their teams on an emotional level and foster a positive work environment.
  3. Regular Feedback and Recognition: Establish a culture of feedback and recognition where leaders provide regular, constructive feedback to their team members. Recognise and celebrate employee achievements, both big and small, to reinforce a culture of appreciation and motivate continued engagement.
  4. Lead by Example: Leaders should model the behaviour they expect from their employees. Emotionally engaged leaders demonstrate integrity, empathy, and a strong work ethic. They are authentic, accessible, and approachable, creating a positive and engaging work environment that makes it safe for employees to model these behaviours.

Final Thoughts

Employee engagement is crucial for organisational success, and emotionally engaged leaders are pivotal in driving and nurturing team engagement. By developing emotionally intelligent leaders who prioritise trust, transparency, motivation, empowerment, and growth, organisations can create a culture that fosters high levels of employee engagement.

Investing in leadership development programs, promoting open communication, and recognising employee contributions are some of the effective strategies that can help organisations unlock the potential of their workforce, leading to improved productivity, innovation, and overall success. 

Emotionally engaged leaders bring out the best in their employees and create a work environment where individuals thrive, and organisations prosper.

As the pace of technology accelerates, we must focus on the aspects of us that make us human- creativity, empathy, innovation and awareness. In the future workplace, our ability to capitalise upon this, and develop it in others, might ultimately lead to an organisation’s success or failure.

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How Organisations Improve Employee Engagement with Emotionally Engaged Leaders

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