Merge's Blog

Engage or enrage? … a leadership choice

David Gouthro CSP is my professional colleague and today’s he’s my guest author. He’s also the current president of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (and a fellow Board member). I’m thrilled he agreed to join us here today on the Turning Managers Into Leaders blog.

In leadership, it can sometimes be a challenge to decide when to engage your followers and when to simply tell them what to do. In this blog post, I’d like to explore the value of the former.

I recently had an opportunity to attend a workshop on Engagement Strategies that focused on a wide variety of techniques for engaging people to a greater extent than simply telling or lecturing to (at?) them. There was widespread acknowledgement amongst participants that this was a far superior way of both transmitting information as well as increasing a sense of ownership for that information. It seems organizations are often driven (by time and budget constraints) to deliver information in the fastest and least expensive way possible. Unfortunately this is often at the expense of absorption, ownership, accountability, etc. I see it happening when a new vision or mission is being rolled out, new products announced, policies and procedures described, organizational changes laid out, etc. One of the lost opportunities in many organizations is the ability to access and apply the knowledge and wisdom residing in the heads of their employees. Companies run “town hall” meetings with large percentages of their employees getting together in one place at one time, but fail to design those gatherings for optimal engagement. The result? Some people may hear (and ideally absorb) the opinions of one or two bold individuals, but others are enraged (or at least disengaged) because they didn’t have an opportunity to contribute to solving a common problem or addressing a common opportunity. It’s ironic that although organizations seem to not have (or take) the time to more fully engage their employees in the dissemination and exploration of information, they are somehow able to pull time out of their hats (or other locations not to be mentioned here) to repair the fallout that occurs from lack of understanding and commitment that results from one-way, passive communication.

There are numerous well-documented and proven approaches to more fully engage employees in the presentation of information. Too bad more leaders don’t use them!

So, what examples and situations have you observed where employees are engaged … or enraged? What did you (or the leader) do that made it work … or not work? Do share.

You can contact David through his website at

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