The shift in the job market, favouring employees, has led to a number of interesting outcomes for business owners around the world. One of the negative effects has been a rising problem of employee retention, engagement, and discretionary effort -the effort given to go above and beyond in the work environment-. Looking at three research studies, from Malaysia to Europe and finally North America, the consensus is all the same: it takes Authentic Leadership to stimulate a proper company culture that will result in your bottom-line and overall company dynamics improving, and in most cases, even prosper through financial recessions.
Authentic Leadership is defined and subsequently substantiated to be when leaders are fundamentally aware of how they think, act, and are perceived by others within their organization. Moreover, those who demonstrate these skills are always perceived by others as “being aware of their own and others’ values/moral perspectives, knowledge, and strengths; aware of the context in character.” (Authentic Leadership, Trust and Work Engagement)
The theoretical and practical framework of all three studies resulted in the same conclusions: that there is a cascading effect of engagement that is initiated by leadership, as well as a direct influencing factor. After reviewing all the research, the cascade of positive influences is found to have a multifaceted positive influence across all organizations that implement Authentic Leadership techniques in conjunction with their Employee Engagement efforts.
1st: The example set forth by upper management is seen to become part of the practices in middle management, and again from there is transmitted to the employees. This positively influences structural empowerment, in turn, increasing job satisfaction and performance.
2nd: Leadership is seen by all within the organization which directly fluences people to act in accordance with their company’s overall vision, and inspires employees to provide the discretionary effort otherwise desired by all management. The results of which only go to increase employee engagement as places where they implement such standards of employee engagement reward job achievements.
The studies conducted across the board have all found that there are positive links between job satisfaction, supervisory communication, and authentic leadership. As discretionary effort is the result of employees going above and beyond the minimum required effort in their jobs, and that satisfaction within their jobs is a key element in providing this kind of effort, there is no wonder why leadership was found to have a positive influence on job satisfaction and performance which further proves the point that Employee Engagement is a top-down directive that all companies need to employ to truly maximize their overall company performances. (Authentic leadership, performance, and job satisfaction: the mediating role of empowerment.)
One of the most catalyzing effects of Authentic Leadership, and more specifically the empowerment given to employees by Authentic Leaders, is how empowering employees and giving them responsibilities improves employee production and quality of work. It emphasizes giving employees power and making them feel as though they are not only valued but that the company is truly theirs as well.
One basic, yet fundamental, statistic brought forth by the studies was that in Engaged Organizations, leaders were significantly more effective, by 1.7 times, than their counterparts in organizations with low engagement. That’s almost twice as effective as their counterparts in organizations with low engagement. As opposed to the classic perspective of keeping information closed and a tightly kept secret, one of the main differences in both engaged and disengaged workplaces was leadership communication. In an engaged work environment, it was found to be frequent, forthright, offering answers to questions employees asked, and even if the responses are “we don’t know” employees appreciate that their concerns are heard. (https://www.aon.com/attachments/thought-leadership/Aon-Hewitt-White-paper_Engagement.pdf)
In order to prosper in 2019, as each of these studies indicates, the top-down approach to employee engagement is a necessity. Work actively on engaging your leadership ranks, they will, in turn, mimic your actions and work towards empowering your employees, and there will be further, positive, repercussions. The direct effect of employees seeing upper management work hard at ensuring all communication is open and shared, as well as the efforts being put into getting their middle management engaged will further influence employees to give that discretionary effort desired by all employers. The effect will be multiplied even more as your middle management will also begin influencing your employees and further provide great examples as role models. Empower your employees and they will perform.