• A leader’s journey to engage : an interpretive study

      Trinder, Jane (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2010-01)
      This research focuses on the perspectives and capabilities held by leaders as they seek to develop an effective engagement strategy when leading change. It has brought together aspects of change, leadership, engagement and leadership development theory in seeking to understand what helps and hinders leaders in developing engagement capabilities. The concept of engagement has taken on increasing significance in recent years, due to its link with higher performance and profitability in organisations. Much existing literature focuses on processes that encourage the involvement of others, and measuring engagement using survey questions. The surveys tend to focus on identifying if someone finds meaning in their role, and whether the environment they operate in enables engagement. This research has sought to use research methodologies based on action learning that encourages the development of capabilities enabling engagement, whilst examining the psychological and contextual factors that help and hinder development. The research draws on adult maturity theory which is used as a framework to aid analysis. This theory suggests that the capability to engage may unfold with the maturing process. This theory aligned with the findings resulting in a profile of what engagement looked like at various levels of maturity. This is useful in that by understanding the capabilities associated with engagement at various levels of maturity it supports leaders and HR consultants to identify development required, and potentially can aid the choice of leader for running change programmes. Four key themes were identified during the analysis. Firstly, the impact of context and how it impacts choices made. Secondly, the importance of capabilities associated with authenticity. Thirdly, the link with emotional intelligence. Finally, the importance of developing a learning practice. The implication of this research is that intent to engage is insufficient as is the focus on process and policy aspects of engagement. Engagement capabilities can be developed and the development of the individual needs as much consideration as the need to ensure strategy, policy and process is appropriate for the engagement strategy. It suggests that when considering major change in organisations focus should be placed on the mindset and capabilities of potential change leaders, to identify whether they have the capabilities likely to align to a particular engagement strategy and to support their understanding of their development needs.