In recent years, leadership has shifted from a “command-and-control” approach to an engagement approach.
The idea that a leader’s job is to bark orders at people and let them do the work is outdated and would have most direct reports heading for the door. However, hands-off, "groupthink"-oriented "laissez-faire leadership,” which offers little-to-no direction or communication from the leader is equally unproductive.
The idea of engagement has gained recent popularity as a means to lead a team effectively. Engaging leaders reach out to their direct reports in an attempt to understand their perspectives and working conditions. In addition, engaging leaders help their direct reports find meaning in their work and listen carefully to their aspirations, needs, and concerns. Listening is clearly a key skill for an engaging leader. Some define engagement as the right people doing the right things at the right time and enjoying the challenge of it.
We might describe engaging leaders as "stewards" of their people. Stewardship describes the responsible oversight and protection of something worth caring for and preserving. Steward leaders view their people as precious entities that they need to nurture, challenge, and develop to their full potential. To this end, steward leaders create an engaging, positive, results-oriented environment where they challenge their direct reports to achieve their potential through effective communication, ongoing development, and genuine concern for their success. Steward leaders focus on driving results through engagement and mutual accountability.
One clear sign of steward leaders: people genuinely enjoy working for them — because they know the leader cares about them, helps them overcome obstacles, and focuses on achieving results.