Speaker shares leadership message: engage those around you

My professional colleague and friend Rich Chapman delivered an excellent leadership message to a group of managers I recently brought together. Rich is a consultant with an investment banking firm that does a lot of work with churches and non-profit organizations around the country. Prior to that, he was president of a very successful compensation consulting firm.

Chapman frequently speaks on leadership and is currently writing a book on the topic to be called “True Line of Sight.”

Managers can energize their organizations by taking steps to engage their employees beyond traditional levels, Chapman said. Noting that as many as 70 percent of the people in the workforce regularly tell pollsters they don’t like their work, Chapman challenged his audience to engage those workers more fully. He said fully engaged employees are happier and more productive.  Chapman said it is up to us to empower our employees so they feel engaged.

“People want to be around attractive people, so be an attractive person,” Chapman said. “What makes someone attractive? It’s the primary virtues you probably learned as a young person: wisdom, justice, temperance and fortitude. People who exhibit these qualities attract the attention of those around them.”

Real leaders, he said, want their employees to succeed. “I love to be around people who want me to succeed, who are interested in my life and empower me to do things,” Chapman said. “Think about ways you can serve, give, equip and empower. Be an attractive person.”

Chapman explained that many people in the workforce have insecurities or fears which make them defensive about their work. Often, their fears are unfounded, but they limit an employee’s productivity because such employees work with one hand and protect their turf with the other. Managers who are able to eliminate that fear empower employees to work with both hands and office productivity doubles.

Chapman said the best way to eliminate fear is to communicate a clear sense of purpose. People grow skeptical when they are unsure about their management’s intentions. When a manager makes his or her intentions clear, employees generally respond positively. “Drive fear out of your organization by engaging your employees with a sense of mission or purpose,” Chapman said.

Chapman cited survey information which noted about 80 percent of employees working at Fortune 500 companies could not articulate their purpose. “I ask you, can you articulate the purpose of your organization, really?” Calling “character, mission and culture the strength of any organization,” he said “mission is the sustainer of any organization.” He said an organization’s culture is “either working for you or against you,” and he said managers who engage their employees with a sense of purpose are most likely to win the culture they need to succeed.

Closing his presentation with a quote from European philosopher Albert Schweitzer, Chapman quoted: “Life’s greatest tragedy is what dies inside of a man while he is still alive.” Chapman said a leader’s challenge is “helping people to grow, change and transform. It is about engaging that energy that is in their life that is dormant today; leadership’s greatest challenge is to help your people come alive. Engage them in the life of your organization.”

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