Engagement trumps everything. If you get engagement right, the profit chain will follow
Seeing the passion and enthusiasm of the delegates at the 2014 Oxford Summer School Foundation programme gave us another inspirational week.   And as always, it reinforced our belief that being able to dance takes more than just learning the steps.

As the Principal Partner and sponsor of the school, we were fortunate to spend a lot of time with the 80+ delegates and share a wide range of the Leading Edge thoughts and beliefs.

Most important of these is that, in 2014 businesses (and retailers in particular) need strong engaged individuals rather than just corporate clones.

Our team started the week with sessions on ‘Insights Discovery’ – helping everyone to understand their own personalities better, and how to be more personal about supporting others. It’s a big emotional lightbulb moment – discovering there is no right and wrong answer, just individuals and their personal preferences.

We discussed the immense importance of Engagement and our belief that all business critical factors (customer service, innovation, recruitment) are a by-product of effective engagement.

Too often leaders devote time to telling their people how to do a task. Yet we see again and again that if time is spent engaging them in why the task is important – they will work out how to do it, and deliver better results.   If people understand the goals and are truly engaged (more than just being happy, committed and understanding the brief) – then they’ll fight hard for you.

Coaching is a key part of it. Leaders need to help their people to reach decisions in their own way, rather than simply being told. Again it’s crucial they understand ‘why’. Good coaching is 90% about asking ‘why’ and 10% ‘how’. The best way to encourage innovation and prompt progress is to give people the chance to ask new questions, to be challenged, and to think differently.

So often – “think differently” is frowned upon in organisations. And yet the successful organisations understand that it’s the only way to think. The world is changing so fast, experience no longer counts for everything. Better results don’t come from repeating the old steps. Success demands immediate experiences be shared and new ideas unlocked. 

In retail, a good leader needs to make sure their team is well briefed on their goals – then be there to coach, guide, encourage and remove blockers so that each member of the team is truly engaged and has the confidence to think differently.

Engagement trumps everything. If you get engagement right, the profit chain will follow.