Transformative leadership begins with establishing a vision for your organization. What are its core principles and values?

The tricky part of translating that vision into a successful strategy requires mobilizing others and building engagement, for which leaders must understand the critical distinction between two very different qualities.

The first is believability. Does your team truly believe they can and will achieve the goals you have set? Do they believe they will be fairly compensated for their work? Do they believe you when you promise to put diversity and inclusion at the heart of your hiring practices? The only way to establish that believability is to walk the talk and ensure that actions follow words. 

Provided your people believe in your project – as long as they can see the organization has the talent, the expertise and the resources to make it work – everything else will fall into place, right?

Not necessarily. The missing ingredient is the second quality – desirability. Your people may fully understand where you’re heading, but that doesn’t always mean they’ll want to go there with you.

All too often organizations think change management is purely a communications challenge. All we need to do is communicate our strategy in a way people will understand it and believe it. But that’s not enough – they need to buy into it as well.

There can be any number of reasons why desirability is missing. People simply might not like the direction the company is heading in, they might not be comfortable with the role they’ll be asked to take on in the future, or they might not see a fulfilling role for themselves at all.

So how do you know when you have harnessed believability and desirability? There’s no single answer, but staying close to your people and understanding both their rational and emotional needs will provide a strong barometer. Hold regular roundtables and engagement meetings. Use exit interviews and sites such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn to find out why people are leaving. Do whatever you can to get behind those eyeballs and find out what people really feel about your company – and your leadership.

Finally, it is important to be clear that building engagement is not about being all things to all people. It is not about satisfying every need of every employee. It is about establishing guiding principles and values and staying true to them. Your people should be in no doubt about the direction you’re going in, why, and how you’re going to get there. Whether that’s a journey they want to join you on is ultimately then a decision for them.