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7 Marks of Engaged Leadership

Disengaged leaders lead by decree.

The ability to calculate percentages isn’t leadership. It doesn’t take a college education to raise last quarter’s results by 5% and call it next quarter’s goal.

When all that matters are the numbers, people become numbers.

More with less:

Disengaged leaders mouth cliches.

  1. Cut costs.
  2. Raise productivity.
  3. Do more with less.

“More with less” punishes success. The more you do, the more you’re expected to do. The more hours you put in, the more hours you’re expected to put in.

“More with less” is a short-term plan not long-term strategy. Prioritizing short-term returns destroys people and organizations over the long-term.

There comes a point when more with less is an evil myth.


I hear about the need for an engaged workforce all the time. What about engaged leadership?

Disengaged leaders create policies and set goals in isolation.

Organizations need engaged leaders who take responsibility for strategy rather than mouthing platitudes. Leaders who announce arbitrary goals and say, “You figure out how to get it done,” are disengaged despots who treat people like machines.

Reject disengaged leaders.


  1. Disengaged leaders create defeated workers.
  2. Expect leaders to connect with the front-line to develop strategies for doing “more with less.”
  3. Engaged leaders call on teams to give their best. But, burning up people isn’t a leadership skill.
  4. Long hours over the long-term lowers productivity. Rest works.

Engaged leaders:

  1. Reject perks and special treatment.
  2. Are as transparent as possible with financials. Secrets breed inequity and distrust.
  3. Demonstrate concern for the issues of teams and employees. Corporate teams who don’t care for people are monsters who sacrifice people for bonuses.
  4. Maintain high standards for themselves and others.
  5. Hire leaders and boards who work on short-term and long-term viability.
  6. Connect with the front-line.
  7. Build trust.

How can leaders navigate tensions between productivity and people?

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