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Want To Keep Your Ship Afloat? Make Sure The Crew Is Engaged

3 min read

Leaders with high emotional competencies are better equipped to navigate those choppy waters. Moreover, they can raise their crew’s morale, investment, and performance simply by looking inward, not outward.

Stress. Burnout. Instability. Uncertainty. Today’s global workforce face tidal challenges almost unprecedented in history. We’re long past the era of getting a “good job” right out of school and working there until you get your pension. Modern organizational paradigms shift with lightning speed, roles and responsibilities grow while rewards diminish, and processes change nearly as often as a Kardashian’s outfit.

So, is it time to head for the lifeboats? Not a chance. In fact, Emotional Intelligence can keep your ship afloat.

Leaders with high emotional competencies are better equipped to navigate those choppy waters. Moreover, they can raise their crew’s morale, investment, and performance simply by looking inward, not outward. Leaders who pay attention to three primary employee needs stand a much better chance of moving the needle from apathy to engagement: being cared about, being recognized and being developed.

Great leaders know how to meet their crew’s needs while still holding true to their vision — and keep the ship on course.

That being said, let’s get into some practical examples of addressing the three primary needs:


Leaders can inspire greater engagement and commitment in their employees by investing just a little time and interest in each of them. By showing genuine interest in employees and their ideas, a leader can get greater work performance all around.

Invite Collaboration

Request ideas from employees, ask for a solution and allow alternative thinking whenever possible. Regardless of your title or position, show an eagerness to hear what others have to say. By doing so, it shows a genuine desire for a collaborative partnership.

Establish Personal Channels

Emotionally intelligent leaders demonstrate a personal interest in their employees to build understanding and trust. Get to know the person outside the cubicle to enhance the relationship and change begrudging compliance to genuine commitment. Share your own and explore their hobbies, pastimes, interests, family and social life, or geographic-demographic background.


From entry level to experienced managers, receiving endorsement for their work motivates employees toward greater creative risk-taking and support of the leader’s vision.

Value Their Value

Provide heartfelt, real-time endorsements to an employee by citing and commending the unique value or combination of qualities they specifically bring to their role, project, or partnership. Speak to the values that this person infuses into their work and how it affects others. Praise someone’s job performance on a recent project or special event, being certain to share specifically what they did so well and the impact it had.

Roll Out The Red Carpet (Or, just pick up the tab for their favorite lunch)

You don’t need ball gowns, tuxedos, and gold statuettes to provide special recognition to the members of your team. Just be thoughtful, creative, and show your appreciation in different ways that matter to those specific employees: reward the team with a hooky day and theatre matinee; bring in popcorn and use that conference room projector for a Friday afternoon movie; order lunch in for the whole team; or simply give those employees two notes of appreciation: one they keep, while a copy goes into their personnel file. Make it memorable. Make it personal. Make it intelligent.


Everyone wants to grow and increase their skills. And the encouragement of their leader goes a long way to reinforcing that pursuing that growth is worthwhile. Put the wind back in your team members’ sails with:

Room to Grow

Provide opportunities beyond training and coaching to improve or expand different skill sets by assigning team members new roles on a project where those skills are needed. Create equal chances for everyone on a safe (lower stakes) situation or project to boost unity and mitigate the fear of (high-stakes) failure.

Internal Resources

Boost individuals’ skills, talents, and morale by formulating mentoring partnerships on a small project or event. Let individuals offer a skill they will mentor and one they would like to learn or improve; then formulate partnerships based on the needs. Both learner and mentor benefit at the same time and you’ve increased two employees’ engagement with one solution.

So, there you have it – don’t panic if you feel adrift from those around you. Simply show your team that you sincerely care about them, appreciate their talents, and want to develop them within their career. A little Emotional Intelligence goes a long way to ensuring smooth sailing.


Virtual Presence Guide: How to Help Virtual Teams Create Authentic Connections

Download this guide to discover tips and best practices to help your teams be productive and engaged when working virtually.

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