The Engaging Leader

By: Saradevi Gopal

Singapore’s economy has experienced impressive growth rates over the past few decades. In recent years however, there has been a decline in performance, albeit a decline to still impressive growth rates. The current issues of concern in particular, are Singapore’s stagnating workforce productivity and innovation capacity. The quality of work and leadership are central to solving these issues. Effectively engaging employees is central to improving productivity and innovation at work. Employee engagement, defined as a psychological state in this paper, has been linked to positive organisational and individual outcomes. In spite of the importance of employee engagement to organisational success, our research and that of others suggests that Singapore’s leadership population may have work to do to really engage those they lead. Leaders play an important role in workplace engagement by shaping the organisation’s vision, values and culture, to positively effect the development of engagement.

In this year’s  Singapore Management Agenda, roughly one-third (32%) identified maintaining staff morale and engagement as a key challenge. The same survey identified that both enployees and HR professionals have doubts about the ability of leaders in Singapore to meet that challenge. For example:

  • 53 per cent of employees’ reported that they thought their leaders lacked the ability to articulate and engage them with a clear strategic vision.
  • 43 per cent felt that their leaders were not effective in ‘listening well and communicating clearly’
  • 50 per cent of employees reported working in ‘low support’ organisations with a lack of direction and support from managers
  • Of those employees indicating an intention to leave their organisation in the near future, 44 per cent cited ‘poor management’ and 39 per cent ‘a lack of appreciation’

In this paper, we outline what in-depth research with employees in both Singapore and the UK has told us about the qualities of engaging leadership.

 

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