engaging leadership, employee engagement, occupational psychologist, occupational psychology consultancy, leadership development

Nigel McPolin
Organisational Psychologist, etimes2 ltd

In the workplace, we always hear about great leaders and the great skills they have.  We hear about how they adapt their style and how they share information with their team.  So much is written about how they are passionate and confident.  But do these skills make them engaging leaders?  What is the difference between great leadership and engaging leadership?  I think of my 5 Pillars of Engaging Leadership as the core differentiators.

5 Free activities to become an engaging leader

Engaging Leadership: why great leadership falls short

The skills normally attributed to great leadership are definitely valuable skills to have.  They will serve a leader and her team well.  Thinking back over my career, both in jobs and as a consultant, I wish more managers had more of these skills.  In fact, few managers could say they had more than a couple of these skills.  Quite a few could say the skills they did possess were often let down by those they didn’t have.

The skills I am referring to here include, for example:

  • Involves people
  • Sets achievable goals
  • Gives feedback
  • Is solutions oriented
  • Empathetic
  • Supportive, yet driven

Do these skills make a great leader into an engaging leader?

The answer is obviously no.

While these are great skills, they are focused on things the leader does.  They are not focused on how the leader makes people feel.  How many leaders do you know who practice many of these skills, yet fail to engage their team members?

Engaging leadership is more than great leadership.  What is the difference, though?

building an engaged team

5 Pillars of Engaging Leadership

The key difference is explained through my 5 Pillars of Engaging Leadership.  These are as much attitudinal as they are skills.  They are behaviours fuelled by a strong belief and values system.  A key realisation within this belief system is that employees choose to give their discretionary effort.  They choose to do it for the leader when the leader’s behaviours, actions and words cause them to feel that choosing high performance is the right thing to do.

This is why engaging leadership is such an important concept.  My 5 Pillars of Engaging Leadership give clear insights on how to encourage employees to choose to give their discretionary effort.


Pillar 1:  Intention

The engaging leader understands the power of intention.  She knows that it is her actions that make the difference, not the words.  Actions clearly illustrate the leader’s intentions so the words have little positive impact unless they are consistent with the actions.  It is intentions that affect how an employee feels.


Pillar 2:  Trust and Respect

The engaging leader knows that trust and respect is not there to be won.  It is not a prize.  Trust and respect is given unconditionally from the outset so every team member can feel its value.  Now they know the value of being trusted and respected, they can decide how to best keep it.


Pillar 3: Genuine Caring Relationships

People perform much better in the workplace when they feel genuinely cared for.  The engaging leader is genuinely interested in the wellbeing and welfare of each team member.  This genuine and sincere care is shown through her actions.


Pillar 4: Person Centric Leadership

Engaging leaders realise that enabling people to understand the purpose of the work they do is vital for engagement and high performance.  So, they spend time discussing the purpose and the ‘why’ with their team members.  It is usually a shrewd investment.


Pillar 5: Emotional Engagement

When team members understand the purpose of the work they do every day and feel genuinely valued by a leader who cares deeply for each team member, they will form an emotional engagement with their work, team and employer.  This emotional engagement is very powerful, driving the employee to choose high performance.

Engaging Leadership Master Programme – a series of 9 Master Classes. Click for more information.


We hope you enjoy our blogs. Please follow and like us: