Actions speak louder than words when it comes to being engaged.
I was speaking on dental practice management and team building at a dental conference a few years back. Before my presentation began, I was visiting with the attendees as they found their seats, when in walks the dental team of one of my referring doctors. I knew the entire staff well and visited with them for a few minutes. Noticing that the doctor was not in their group, I inquired as to his whereabouts. The office manager replied that the doctor had chosen to attend a “technically” oriented lecture that conflicted with my presentation. It was hard to overlook the visible disappointment on the faces of the entire team as this statement was made.
I couldn’t help but wonder if my friend and colleague fully understood the consequence and the incredibly negative message created by his actions. It was not hard to see that the team felt abandoned and that they had to somehow wonder about the doctor’s real commitment to team building. If I could characterize the staff’s perspective, I would have to guess that they viewed their doctor as being “disengaged.”
Engagement is a critical concept that permeates all levels of leadership and organizational culture. As a leader, being engaged means that we commit ourselves fully and willingly to our cause and by doing so we inspire others to engage as well. Engagement is an unspoken act that speaks volumes about who we are and how we lead. It is one of the most significant ways that we allow others to observe what we truly value.
…you have to want to be engaged. There has to be deep-seated desire in your heart and mind to participate, to be involved, and to make a difference. If the desire isn’t there, no person or book can plant it within you. ~ Tim Clark
When it comes to engagement, our actions speak louder than our words. Take, for example, this dental staff that was sent to learn about building a better, stronger team while the doctor feels that his time is better spent elsewhere. It makes no difference how the doctor rationalized his actions; the team saw the obvious truth. How can a staff commit and engage in creating a better environment while the leader is obviously disengaged?
A leader who believes they can fool their staff is only fooling them self. Our staff sees and processes everything that we do. They see through a façade with frightening clarity. They observe our every action; what we reward and what we punish, how we spend our resources, and what we do as opposed to what we say. And, it is from these observations that they determine what we truly value. To the abandoned team attending my lecture, there was no doubt that team building was not valued by their absent doctor.
Being disengaged is the same as default leadership, and is one of the biggest obstacles in taking your organization from good to great. It is impossible to move an organization forward when the prevailing leadership style is characterized by emotional absenteeism.
Personal engagement requires the deployment of all of our personal resources – time, energy, skill, and knowledge – to achieve a goal. Only fully engaged leaders can create cultures of commitment in their organizations, because others will not commit unless a fully engaged leader shows them the way. It’s like soliciting a donation for a worthy cause. Friends and colleagues are unlikely to make their donation unless they know that you have made yours first.
Are you fully engaged in developing your organization’s culture? Are your actions consistent with your stated beliefs? Most importantly, does your team see you as being fully engaged?
Please contact me for a complimentary phone consultation and I will help you in becoming fully engaged in your business, your team and your life.
Dr. Joel Small and Dr. Edwin McDonald, the founders of Line of Sight Coaching, are dental practitioners, authors, speakers and Business Leadership Coaches who work with healthcare professionals to help them build more successful practices so they can live the balanced life they seek.