When creating a culture characterized by engaged employees, one of the more influential resources for transformation are the leaders of your organization. When leaders are immobilized by a controlling culture, dishonesty, disorganization, those who withhold information, or even bullying, transforming into a culture that leads to engagement works best when there is a vision for the change and authentic commitment to the vision.

Shifting from Immobilization to Empowerment
There are immobilized leaders who rely heavily on strategies like avoidance, accommodation and compromise which are low on the assertiveness scale. In unproductive environments, these styles become a necessity for survival. Unfortunately, when survival is the highest need, it is undergirded by fear and when fear is a primary motivator in your role as leader, employees perceive you as powerless, undermined, or weak because they are rendered voiceless because of you.

Immobilized leaders tend to take the less assertive route because demonstrating assertive styles can lead to unwanted conflict that results in exclusion, or even termination. So what do you do? If you are a leader who strongly influences the culture of your organization, you may decide it is time for a change. If strengthening engagement is your desired path to higher performance, the first step is to reflect on how you have contributed to the culture, both knowingly and unwittingly.

In the transformation process, the first commitment to yourself as a leader is to personal awareness, change and growth. Skills like self-awareness can help you perceive how you react when disconcerting circumstances emerge. You can use this self-knowledge to orchestrate responses that empower both you and your team. This is because self-awareness is the foundation for empathy so it helps you understand the far-reaching consequences of your actions. With this information you can strategize the transformation of unproductive cultural norms.

Another important empowering activity for leaders is to transform your thinking. There are organizations where persons can fall unwittingly into the cultural trap of fixated, group think. In circumstances like this, the culture trains you to think a certain way, and any attempts to deviate are strongly discouraged. New perspectives about your people and your organizational circumstances can help you propel your performance and orchestrate the cohesion of your team. Seeing the possibilities and not the obstacles, perceiving your coworkers’ strengths and not their weaknesses or reframing difficult circumstances can inspire profound creativity and empowerment.

Author's Bio: 

Yvette Bethel is CEO of Organizational Soul, a consulting company dedicated to transforming cultures through building collective emotional intelligence skills. She is also author of the emotional Intelligence books E.Q. Librium and Getting to E.Q. Librium.

If you are interested in signing up for our newsletter, listening to Yvette's podcast, exploring how you can improve your emotional intelligence or learning how to create higher performing teams, you can visit www.yvettebethel.com.