What Is ‘Ingaged’ Leadership?

By Evan Hackel

What is “ingaged leadership”? It’s a new approach to leading, based on the belief that when a leader aligns people and creates an organization where everyone works together equally in partnership, that organization becomes vastly more successful.

Ingagement isn’t an action you take just once. It’s an ongoing way of leading that has the power to transform your organization, your people, you and, ultimately, your success. It’s a leadership philosophy for people who don’t think it’s enough to simply tell people what to do. To lead fully and unlock everyone’s potential, an individual must involve people’s minds, emotions and creativity.

Ingagement goes beyond the kind of management you will find in many companies today, where top executives believe that leading means giving instructions or offering incentives for people who meet expectations.

Ingaged leadership is different. Everyone in a company can take part in it—company leaders, members of a top leadership team, middle managers, frontline employees and people at all organizational levels. It offers a way of moving from good to great.

I created the term “ingaged leadership” and spelled it with an “i” as a way of signifying that it is a new way of leading that requires a higher level of engagement. The letter “i” in ingaged leadership stands for “involvement.”

How do you practice this form of leadership? Here are some ideas.

Key Activities of Ingaged Leaders

In my book, Ingaging Leadership, I offer advice on key practices of this kind of leadership. Some of the most important are:

· Go beyond being a good listener and strive to really hear the meaning behind what people are saying. In my own leadership journey, that meant I had to stop listening for what other people were saying that was wrong and start listening for things that were right.

· Consider sharing all company financial data with everyone in your organization. When people know the facts, they are more aware of your current challenges and often offer deeper support.

· Have everyone in your organization—including company leaders—take part in 360-degree job reviews in which their peers and the people they supervise review them. Share that feedback with everyone in your organization. 

· Acknowledge and use ideas from people at all levels in your organization. You cannot use every idea or suggestion, but when people know they have been heard, they are more likely to become invested in their work. As a result, the entire organization improves and grows.

· Accept that other people’s ideas can be as good, or better, than yours—even though you are the nominal leader.

· Introduce new ways for people on all levels to share ideas on an equal basis, such as open meetings where ideas are captured, developed and put into practice when possible.

· Invite everyone to contribute to, define and refine your company’s mission and vision.

· Surround yourself with people who have different skill sets and can challenge you.

· Allow people to try things they believe deeply in, even if you have doubts. 

· Cultivate the ability to ask for help when you need it. And offer help freely when you see the need.

To be clear, ingagement doesn’t mean having a complete democracy. In most organizations, it is the role of senior management and the board to ultimately make the final call about high-level, critical issues. If your company is considering merging with another business, for example, those top leaders will have the responsibility of making the final decision—after inviting and weighing free, full input from the ranks.

Evan Hackel, the creator of the ingaged leadership concept, is principal and founder of Ingage Consulting in Woburn, Mass. He is also CEO of Tortal Training, a Charlotte, N.C.-based firm that specializes in developing and implementing interactive training solutions for companies in all sectors.