Engaging and Leading a Professional Staff

Engaging and leading a professional staff

“You need to wake up to the fact that if you’re not engaging your employees, you’re hurting them – and your company” Tucker Robertson CEO – CDL Helpers

In any organisation a critical factor underpinning its success, and the sustainability of that success, is employee engagement. The ability for a leader to communicate and develop a culture of engagement based on the organisations values and vision is central to ensuring that the employees are connected and in tune with what is important to that organisation. If employees are not engaged it will come through in their motivation, quality and accountability of their work.

Engagement of employees does not rely on a leader to display autocratic, top-down control. This by its very nature tends to have the reverse effect of demotivating and demoralising employees. The leader’s use of strong interpersonal skills to develop a professional culture based on empowerment, support, respect, competence and relatedness are major traits in providing the employees with the necessary connectedness to the organisations values and vision. These five traits not only add to the overall connectedness within the organisation but also increase productive employee engagement. In John Adair’s book “Lexicon of Leadership – The definitive guide to leadership skills and knowledge” , he tables the eight principles of motivation, of which number 5 is – Remember that progress motivates. For employees to be making progress towards a meaningful goal or vision produces greater productive employee engagement which leads to greater job satisfaction and organisation connectedness.

“When employees are not engaged, they generally aren’t paying attention to their work, and tend to be apathetic about their jobs” Orin Davis, Principal Investigator – Quality of Life Laboratory

The question still remains – How does a leader communicate and develop this culture of engagement, linked to the organisations values and vision? Throughout my leadership experiences in educational organisations I have found the Functional Leadership Model has greatly assisted me in developing a culture of productive and professional engagement amongst staff. It has enabled me to develop and communicate a shared vision, and transfer this vision into reality. The Functional Leadership Model, and its three areas of need, and how vision (leaders role) is used to encompass these needs is shown below in Figure 1.


Figure 1 – Functional Leadership Model

In order to fully appreciate this model one must first understand that the three areas of need are not separate or static, they are interactive and dynamic. The vision, which is linked to the organisations values and vision, is used to maintain the areas of need, and these in turn support the vision.

The vision enables the leader to communicate their task to the team and individual, giving them direction and the ability to develop this task into reality. The leader, team and individuals are able to monitor their progress based on how effectively they are maintaining the vision. The primary function of the leader is to maintain, communicate and support the vision. The leader also needs to ensure they are supporting and informing the team or individuals on the progress of the task and how this progress is achieving the vision. By continually celebrating team or individual successes and progress, the leader is able to promote organisation connectedness and productive employee engagement. The leader’s effective use of strong interpersonal skills and the five major traits of empowerment, support, respect, competence and relatedness across the three areas of need are central in achieving employee connectedness and engagement.

“We asked the students how they could best represent themselves and the school in a way that would make a difference. My mantra was that staff and student leaders should pledge to leave the school a better place than when we arrived. We should all make a mark.” Ray McLean


Blanchard, K. et.al. (1993). The One Minute Manager builds high performing teams. Harper Collins, London.

Collis, J. (1995). Work smarter not harder. Harper Collins, London.

Stark, P. and Flaherty, J. (2011). The Competent Leader. HRD Press, Massachusetts.

Stark, P. and Flaherty, J. (2010). The only leadership book you’ll ever need. Career Press, New Jersey.

Sutton, R. PhD (2012). Good Boss, Bad Boss. Business Plus, New York.


Adair, J. (2005). How to grow Leaders. Kogan Page Limited, London.

Adair, J (2011). Lexicon of Leadership – the definitive guide to leadership skills and knowledge. Kogan Page Limited, London.

McLean, R. (2010). Team Work – forging links between honesty, accountability and success. Penguin Group, Australia.


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