We recently attended a lecture about leading extraordinary performance. The session reinforced the comparison of leadership to the Heliotropic effect. The Heliotropic effect is when plants move to follow the sun.
How does this apply to leadership? Studies show that employees will move toward positive, engaged leadership. So how do you help employees see leadership in this light?
Show leaders as being real people… involved and participating. Highlight leadership participating in the exact same initiatives that you roll out to employees – wellness events, benefits fairs, 401k education lunches, etc. As an employee, wouldn’t it be great to see leadership trying to get the same amount of steps on their pedometer as you? Suddenly, we all have something in common.
Ideas for visibility: Maybe have leaders and managers run the sign-up desk for the biometrics screening one day, or create a testimonial about one of the leaders attending a safety training course out on the plant floor. One of our clients went so far as to have senior leaders put together the wellness series where each leader talks about a lifestyle change they’ve made and how they did it. Premise being that even the top dogs struggle with finding time to fit in exercise and took three times to successfully quit smoking.
WARNING: Engagement is not forced involvement. There are many, many companies out there who specialize in creating an engaged workforce. All we’re talking about here is spotlighting the engaged leaders you already have. An engaged leader says, “I’m sold; sign me up; this is an awesome idea; I fully support this organization.” If a senior leader isn’t supportive of an initiative, then consider showcasing an excited supervisor or supportive HR staff member.
Remember, plants not only seek out the sun, they turn their faces to it and embrace it.