Leaders, 5 Legacy Attitudes to Replace for Employee Engagement

As The People-Skills Coach™, leaders often ask me why they haven’t been able to engage employees.

In many cases, I discover that their attitude and communication is one of several reasons. In fact, there are 5 legacy attitudes to replace for employee engagement.

Leaders, 5 Legacy Attitudes to Change for Employee Engagement

I see leaders holding on to these legacy attitudes when they are solely focused on results and not the teams who must get there. They also do it when they assume that the people they lead are just like them.

These leaders succeed when they shift their philosophical beliefs. They engage employees much better once they see that people are diverse and that employee engagement does not block, reduce, or delay results.

Employee engagement drives results through inspiration and nourishes commitment to the highest quality, best results.

Your communication, people-skills, and interpersonal connection engage with employees to that end.

Leaders, Replace These 5 Legacy Attitudes to Engage Employees

  • Prove me wrong. Although this sounds like an inspirational challenge to employees, it also smacks of the legacy attitude — “I, the leader, am right until or unless you prove me wrong.” Change the focus from you to the idea in question. Engage employees around ideas and results, not around you.
  • “If that’s all you can do.” As changes in business require new skills of employees, they often struggle with how to stay competent and feel competent. On more than one occasion, I have heard managers say to these concerned employees, “well if that’s all you can do … ” (meaning their current skill).

    This legacy attitude of questioning employees’ competence does not make them work harder. The issue is not effort; it’s skill redevelopment. They are already concerned about their continued competence. Lift them up and engage them with diverse opportunities to learn new skills. Disdain does not engage!

  • The Assembly Line Approach to Leading People

  • No news is good news. This not-so-golden legacy nugget is based on the idea that employees should routinely do what they are initially told until further orders arrive. Yikes – the assembly line approach to people! Can’t you just picture the little people widgets rolling along?

    Meanwhile, communicating engages employees for best results. It gives them information about focus and purpose, and it inspires commitment to results. Engage with knowledge on how the company makes money. Offer worthy kudos for their specific talents that contributed to the end results.

  • Communicating how employees’ contributions advance the company’s greatness, nourishes greatness. Anaerobic bacteria are the only things that grow in a vacuum; people and businesses don’t.

  • Work things out for yourselves – you’re adults. Leaders who want to focus primarily on end results often side step team issues under the guise of empowerment. One recent article (the URL for which I cannot find at this moment) claims we should “take the bubble wrap off employees” and let them work everything out themselves.

    Leaders, aren’t you employees too? Why not share your special insight to help reduce conflict and re-engage the team on the end result?

    When you overlook team issues, success overlooks your teams. Abandonment is not a success strategy.

  • If you don’t see me doing it, don’t do it. Wow — the Simons Says approach to 21st century success. Leaders, will this attract top talent to your team? It might get you obedient followers but that burdens you with creating all the success.

    If you want collaborative innovators
    who use their talent and acumen to produce success — replace Simon Says with something at least at the level of Pictionary! It’s much more engaging. (What game would you suggest?)

If your personality or experience makes you highly engaged and focused on results, you may make the classic mistake of assuming all employees are just as engaged. Yet if they were you wouldn’t wonder why they aren’t.

Focus on the reality of today’s leadership requirements. Engage employees through knowledge of the business, training, appreciation, and accountability to draw out maximum contribution to the best end results.

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

Related Post: Leaders, Take This Pain Free Journey to Engaging Employee Accountability

©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please first email info@katenasser.com for terms of use. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on customer service & experience, teamwork, employee engagement, and leading change. Kate turns interaction obstacles into business success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

14 Responses to “Leaders, 5 Legacy Attitudes to Replace for Employee Engagement”

  1. Lorne Pike says:

    Another great post, Kate.

    The fascinating thing about some of these changes is that they’re really not huge departures from the old way of doing things; they’re just adjustments that can usually be easily done… but we usually don’t. As is often the case, the first step would be for us to engage ourselves in the process of actively working to become a better manager.

    Thanks for the insights!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Lorne,
      One of my favorite things to do professionally is highlight simple easy changes with big impact. That was my goal in this post and I am so pleased that you highlight the importance in your comment.

      Thanks again!

  2. LOVE this post Kate!

    Most of the behaviors you listed remind me of school-yard bullies that attempt to control their environment through manipulation and fear. While the “work things out for yourselves – you’re adults” mentality is often a disguise for people that are uncomfortable with conflict and have not realized that behavior frequently serves as fertilizer for silos, politics and turf-wars to grow larger.

    I agree! I would rather work in an environment like this… “Employee engagement drives results through inspiration and nourishes commitment to the highest quality, best results.”

    • Kate Nasser says:

      You nailed it Chery — “work things out for yourselves” — is often a cover for “I’m afraid of conflict”.

      What many don’t realize is that it often says “I can’t lead people” and leaves a bad rep for the leader.

      Thanks for your insight here Chery.

  3. Martina says:

    Excellent observations Kate.

    I agree with Chry that these are basically bullying tactics and ways to escape any blame if things fall apart. We cannot engage people and expect them to be good employees and forward thinkers if all we give them is cookie-cutter attitudes. Work should be a collaborative effort and not just a struggle to get a paycheck by the employee.

    Employees have no buy-in if they don’t get clear messages and clear directives about what is expected of them. In addition to this, they need room to grow and think; room to demobnstrate their abilities, and employers who take pride in them.

    One of my favorites is, “You know what I meant.” Meaning that I was not explicit enough in my verbal instructions for you to get the job done that I had hoped. So now that it is not right, its your (the employees) fault for not paying close enough atten to my non-verbal cues.


  4. Liz Weber says:

    Ha! I love this! Sad but true these comments are heard more often than many would believe. They tend to be becoming fewer and further between, but they’re still around. I’ll add a #6 – If I didn’t tell you to do it, why did you do it? Duh! And then you wonder why you’re employees seem to sit and stare at you waiting for you make every decision….. You’re not leaving a legacy, you’re leaving scars….. Great job as always Kate!

  5. PM Hut says:

    Hi Kate,

    I like the change in perspective from “Prove me wrong” to “Prove that this idea is wrong” – as leaders (or project managers in my situation), we often let our ego control us. If we let go of our ego, then we most likely be better leaders.

  6. Kate,

    This is another good post because leaders have to be aware of their attitude towards engagement. I don’t think I have a #6 right now (because you pretty much covered almost everything). But I do think leaders should also help their teams better understand how they lead. After all, it is a relationship and should be a two-way street. Leaders should be more transparent because it helps teams understand how to engage the leader as well.

    One more thing, I am reminded of something in sports that I think applies to employee engagement. One day on ESPN radio they were interviewing a Hall of Fame baseball manager and asked him what does it take to be a successful manager. He said, the great ones understand that you have to manage every player differently (because they are all different). I think that pretty much sums up how to maximize engagement.


  7. Michelle Romanica says:

    A super post, Kate!

    So often, managers are doing their best but they only know what they have been doing and have little idea how they are impacting those they are responsible for.

    The transition from manager to leader is very difficult if there is no one to shine a light on how to do things differently for different results.

    Thanks for shining the light, Kate!!

  8. Guy Farmer says:

    Great post Kate. It reminds me of the importance of practicing positive behaviors in the workplace and helping employees learn vital skills. It’s amazing what happens when leaders work hard to really help their employees feel like they matter. Engaged employees get a lot more done than taken-for-granted employees.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Oh Guy I love your last phrase .. “Engaged employees get a lot more done than taken-for-granted employees.” It’s human nature. Yet there are still leaders circulating the belief that needing encouragement is a sign of weakness. It isn’t. It is the power of connection spurring people on to greater heights.

      Many thanks for your contribution here.

KateNasser on Facebook KateNasser Blog KateNasser on Twitter KateNasser on LinkedIn KateNasser on Pinterest