Get engaged! Focus your mindset to execute results

Get engaged! Focus your mindset to execute results

During the past few weeks, I’ve been focusing on the topic of mindset — how powerful it can be in shifting our behaviours and transforming our results. Still, there’s another point left unspoken but worth reiterating as it can bring you breakthrough achievements in developing your people, leading to organisational successes.

Given the speed of change in today’s business, markets and workforces are constantly evolving and changing. Your people, as the core assets of your organisation, need to be more productive and efficient than ever to ensure that your company can thrive in this new business landscape.

Consequently, a lot of work needs to be done on the way you manage, lead and support your subordinates, teams and peers so that they are equipped with the capabilities for the future to grow your business further. It is critical for your organisation to be ready now to meet future demands, but most leadership development methods now in use cannot produce good enough leaders fast enough.

Based on my experience in the people development field and as an executive coach for many well-known leaders for 25 years, if you want to develop someone, the very first step is to engage them. Engaging and establishing the right mindsets for learning and developing, to be specific. You have to create a memorable experience and a safe atmosphere for the people being developed so that they feel comfortable enough to learn and to share their candid views and passions.

Effective training is not possible without engagement; however, engaging today’s audiences can be difficult. According to Gloria Mark, an informatics professor at the University of California, Irvine, the average person’s attention span is only about three minutes before they feel the impulse to set aside whatever they are currently doing and begin a new activity.

Still, it is not the audience’s job to be engaged or be persuaded; neither is it the responsibility of HR. Rather, it is leaders and line managers who need to be the forces of this change. Their mindsets as well as their actions need to be transformed and shifted accordingly before they can begin to effectively engage others.

In detail, when you engage your people before developing them, you’ll imprint on them your genuine desire for them to further develop themselves, to be better prepared and ready to take on new and challenging tasks ahead.

Only when your people realise that their bosses, leaders and companies genuinely want to invest in enhancing their skills so that they can maximise their potential will they eventually develop engagement toward their companies.

Here, leaders must create clear agreements on developmental plans to ensure clarity and engage in active listening and powerful questioning, using a solution-focused technique that focuses on the future rather than dwelling on the past.

Highlight the benefit of what is in it for them. This is what every participant is thinking at the start of a training or development session. They always will be looking for a tangible benefit and you can provide it with the message you are delivering.

Establishing the right mindset and engaging people from the very beginning is crucial. As Lyndon Johnson once said: “[I]f they’re with you at the take-off, they’ll be with you in the landing.” Hence, be concrete about specific details of how your development programme or plan can have a positive effect on productivity or the bottom line. How will it actually save them time, money or possibly make their job or life easier?

Simply put, you need to clearly and unequivocally spell out the benefits you are providing for those giving you their time and attention if you want to develop trust and credibility.

Once you get them engaged and shift them into the right mindset of learning and developing, then you can move on to the next step which is empowerment.

Let them choose the areas they want to develop or let them work on certain projects without constant and thorough monitoring. This is because people tend to work better, have a stronger sense of accountability as well as more need for self-development once they are given the authorisation to do something on their own.

To do this, you need to help them clearly visualise success to drive ownership and belief, while building a values-based perspective to clarify benefits and impact to further drive engagement.

Only when they have gone through these first two stages can we move on to the next, which is the execution part. This is because when people feel engaged to develop and be developed, when they feel empowered by their leaders or bosses to take on something new, then they will feel the urge to actually execute that particular project of job.

Last but not least, by starting with the right mindset, organisations can create a significantly positive shift in building adequate leadership capability that can be applied immediately back at work and lead to tangible business outcomes.


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia's leading executive, leadership and innovation capability development centre. She can be reached by email at or

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