Has anyone ever ordered you to do something? Perhaps they handed you a list of instructions and walked away, uninterested in your perspective. In such a scenario, many people are inclined to do only what is asked of them and no more.

An environment of compliance is a place where orders and mandates take priority over relationships. Mandates can create a sense of urgency, but they don’t result in long-term benefits for an organization. Orders don’t contribute to culture, innovation, or anything more than an average level of productivity.

“On what high-performing companies should be striving to create: A great place for great people to do great work.” — Marilyn Carlson, former CEO of Carlson Companies

Starting Down the Road to Service

""Engagement doesn’t take care of itself—it’s an active choice. Creating engagement is the first thing a leader needs to do when they take on the mantle of leadership, because, as a leader, you don’t want a workplace where everyone is merely getting by.

If you can successfully replace compliance with engagement, it shifts the entire dynamic of your workplace. Your team collaborates as a single entity, sharing in responsibility and outcomes. They invest emotionally, creating relationships that are no longer transactional in nature.

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” — Simon Sinek, author and inspirational speaker

When You Own the House

Renters interact with their living spaces a little differently than owners do. When the roof leaks, they call their landlord, but they certainly aren’t interested in fixing it themselves. If the roof keeps leaking, they might move out.""

However, a homeowner has a different level of investment. When their roof begins to leak, they get the ladder out of the garage and they climb up and fix the roof themselves.

When team members walk through the door at their place of employment, clock in, and trade the minimum amount of effort for the minimum amount of compensation, it’s because there’s no sense of ownership. They’re not invested in solving problems, creating positive interactions, contributing to the culture, or even providing positive customer experiences.

The Engagement Difference

Here at Fired Up! Culture, we like to say that relationships are the cornerstone of leadership. As we wrote in our book, Would You Work for You — The Quest: Discovering the Leader Within, “As a leader, your goal is not merely the compliance of the team and their quiet acceptance of the direction. It’s about earning and building engagement through loyalty and trust.”

""Engagement can have a far-reaching impact. Not only are team members more motivated but so are their customers and clients. People buy into relationships and meaningful experiences. Companies are increasingly realizing that engagement messes with the bottom line in the most positive of ways, because, when customers are engaged, they return again and again.

There’s a reason why insurance ads have grown so entertaining and personable in recent years. They’re not selling to people anymore—they’re seeking to engage with them, because they know that’s where the real difference lies.

How to Get Started

As a leader, the first thing you need to do to move your culture toward engagement is to engage with the people you serve. Get comfortable asking questions and listening to the answers. Don’t just learn people’s names. Find out the names of their children and pets, discover their interests, and seek to know what motivates them. Look for areas of mutual connection or common interest, whether it’s a favorite sports team, a television show you’re both watching, or perhaps a love of the outdoors.""

An engaged leader is always listening. They’re listening for great ideas, refinements to systems, and ways to combine productivity with personal growth. They want to know where people find fulfillment and satisfaction. By doing this, they build an environment where relationships are strong, team members feel heard and validated, and productivity and engagement soar.

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” — Ray Kroc, businessman and former CEO of McDonald’s

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