The ‘E’ Effect in Leadership: 3 Traits of Successful Leaders

Jun 25, 2019 5 Min Read

Explore, engage and empower are the 3Es or magic words that create successful leadership in organisations. With most organisations jumping on the bandwagon of talent engagement, this practice has become an essential component of leadership.

In line with the current trend, merging employee engagement with leadership is seen as a good recipe for success in business. Often, we look for role models who demonstrate good leadership and lead by example, yet we fail to see the leader within us.

At work, we are always trained to see our weaknesses and areas that need improvement instead of capitalising on our strengths. At school, we are taught to always look for the missing part in us so that we can become ‘perfect’ by hitting a score of 100 in all subjects.

This exercise gets carried over when we enter the workforce and we tend to exhibit similar behaviour at work. Many fail to focus on and explore their strengths which will lead to better engagement, satisfaction and happiness at work.

Let’s explore these three components of successful leadership and how you can be a better leader.

1. Explore

A good leader is a talent spotter and has the skill to identify talent and uplift them to become leaders or successors. How can we be confident that there is a leader in us? Here are a few indications:

  • We tend to create a positive and conducive working environment and empower those around us
  • Everyone feels safe, secure and engaged in the presence of the potential leader
  • A leader backs up and supports team members, gives them confidence and encouragement, prioritises the development of the members, and believes in them (maybe even more than they believe in themselves)

A written rule says, coaching, mentoring, job delegation, and many more traits are needed in order to be a good leader.

In my opinion, the capacity to be a good leader lies within us and to be one, we have to touch the hearts of those around us by empowering them and leading them towards success – be it on a personal or professional level.

At the explore stage, an experienced leader may be able to identify the leadership skills and potential in you. Otherwise, you have to take charge by doing a self-review and thorough analysis to see where you are in leading yourself towards becoming future leaders. Start exploring the leader in you and capitalise on your strengths.

Read this: Defining the Role of Senior Leadership

2. Engage

A leader can be spotted in a crowd because of their uniqueness, charisma, leadership traits and most importantly, the followers. Often, if we form a group for an activity and get them to select a leader, we tend to choose someone who we see as outstanding or exhibits unique features.

Engaging employees, keeping them motivated and retaining them in the organisation is a daunting task for many. A good leader has the ability to champion this and manage it tactfully.

In other words, engaging talents fuels leadership skills, leading towards empowerment and retention at the workplace. Involve your staff and make them feel part of the team.

Two key aspects of engaging employees are communication and bonding. These two factors can make or break working relationships and play an important role in bringing employees under one umbrella, with aligned core values and unified goals.

An essential challenge is to determine and measure the engagement level, and even though methods such as engagement or organisation climate surveys and Net Promoter Score (NPS) are available, there is a stronger need for a more tangible measurement unit in championing engagement efforts.

3. Empower

Employees need to be empowered to keep them going in the organisation. Empowerment means energising and enlightening employees at the workplace, making them feel at home, and creating a sense of belonging in the organisation – be it an emotional or rational commitment or discretionary effort at work.

Empowering them can also be in the form of encouragement and giving authority, freedom and transparency at workplace – yet again, this may strongly relate to the work culture and core values of the organisation.

Each company may have a different way and understanding of empowering employees. At times, motivation is seen as a key factor of empowerment for employees on an on-going basis.

A measuring unit for this comes as burning questions: Can we continuously empower employees at work? What are the key metrics and indicators for one to say “Yes, my team and my employees are empowered and we see them being with us for a long time”?

Empowerment can carry different meanings to different employees depending on their employee life cycle and other various reasons, yet the bottom line is for employees to take ownership, be committed, and enjoy what they do at the workplace.

A good leader needs to be equipped with the right knowledge, skills and traits to empower the workforce be it at personal level or across the organisation. Empowerment has become a key requirement among employees as they want to work for leaders who encourage, guide and motivate them, and they want to perceive their leaders as role models.

Check out this podcast: Secure Base Leadership

In conclusion

With such high expectations, it creates more pressure on leaders to start working on these skills and leadership traits. Most current leadership styles dwell more on number of followers than being a role model.

As leadership is becoming an essential element in business sustainability and innovation, the 3Es are key elements of leadership.

An admired leader has the competencies mentioned above: explore (ability to spot talent and leaders in organisation), engage (get commitment and full involvement) and empower (ensure employees have the value of being respected and valued by leaders and organisation).

Can you recall the best leader you came across in your life and do they have the 3Es? Such competencies torch leaders and lead them towards professional growth, team empowerment and business success.

We’ve often heard this question, “Are leaders born or developed?” I am a strong believer of the latter and this is the first step in developing high potential, robust, and resilient leaders who can be role models in demonstrating the above competencies.

Start equipping yourself as leaders with the 3Es and benefits would pour in from all angles, combined with a noteworthy increase in the number of followers.

Begin to lead!

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Prakash Santhanam is a highly passionate certified talent management/HR professional. He helps organisations move towards global excellence through executive coaching, talent attraction, selection, development and retention. He was the past president of the International Association of Coaching (IAC) Malaysia Chapter.

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