What creates engagement? How do you build it, spread it , and maintain it?
I don't propose that I know the definitive answer to these questions. I do have an observation…
People get engaged and enthusiastic about something they believe in.
You're probably thinking: “Really Guy. That's all you've got?” And my answer is, pretty much.
It's not really rocket science. It's not a mystery. It's not the Holy Grail. It really does exist. Engagement happens when people believe in what they are doing.
Without that belief, the work is only about the paycheck.
So, the follow-up question becomes, how do you create the belief that leads to engagement.
My answer to this question is also pretty simple: build relationships.
Here's a quick story to illustrate my point…
It's nearly 10:00 pm on a Sunday night, and I'm working to get everything ready for the official launch day, now two days away, for the book I co-authored with Kevin Eikenberry, From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership. While the picture above is not my desk — my desk is far to messy to show to the public right now — it does represent what's going on in my workspace.
I have both my desktop and my laptop computers working. I'm converting video files on one and writing this post on the other. My whole weekend has been like this. I'm pretty well chained to my computers and my phone. There is a lot to do when you're trying to successfully launch a book into the marketplace.
The surprising thing is not that Kevin and I, the authors, have been working almost non-stop on book launch activities since the middle of last week. You would expect the people with their names on the cover to have a heavily vested interest in the success of the book.
Here's what is rather surprising: several other people have also been working with nearly the same intensity and focus.
And it's not just the people close to us. We also have a very long list of bloggers, podcasters, promotional partners, and others rushing to get their blog post, audio, video, or article posted to help with our launch.
Buried in this experience is a great lesson for leaders who want to know how to create that magical ingredient of organizational success called “engagement.”
How did we create this engagement? What steps did we take? What activities happened?
It's simple. We built relationships.
Yes, we did lots of technical work, writing, and web site building. And, in the end, it was relationships that created the engagement.
We built relationships using phone calls, Skype calls, emails, text messages, letters, tweets, blog posts, interviews, and meetings. On the surface, these activities seem to be about the book and “getting the word out.” In the end, the activities were about building relationships more than they were about getting our message out.
The relationships gave us the opportunity to share our excitement with others. The relationships built the bridge that let other people catch that excitement. The excitement built belief, and the belief built engagement.
The lesson for leaders? Start with relationships, and you'll likely wind up with engagement.