Leadership and Management of People


The ability to lead and manage people is vital to the success of any organization. The realization of group objectives needs someone who can meet organizational goals. Leaders communicate their vision to the group, command respect from the team and mobilize people. Although management and leadership are intertwined, they need different skills, outlook, and behaviors. Effective leaders need good management skills while good leaders need appropriate management skills to achieve the objectives. Based on this knowledge, this paper will analyze the concept of employee engagement and the impacts that it has on organizational learning and performance from the employee and employer’s perspective. The paper also examines how leaders can help create effective learning and development programs within the organization.

  1. 1: The concept of employee engagement from both an academic and practical perspective. The benefits of employee engagement to the organization and the impact this has on organizational performance.

Employee engagement is a system through which people are harnessed into their work roles within the firm. Through engagement, workers express themselves in the physical, cognitive and emotional domains during role performance. Cognitively, it is a system that encompasses employee values and beliefs about the firm (Patro, 2013, p. 1). Emotionally, engagement concerns the employee’s positive or negative feelings towards the organization, leaders and managers. Physically, engagement entails the physical energy used by individuals while accomplishing their roles within the organization environment. Workers who are engaged are happy, have a passion for their work and give out their best for increased productivity within the firm.

Employee engagement is conceptualized as a positive state of psychological motivation manifested in behaviors. Employee engagement to an organization leads to improved organizational performance and outcomes such as improved efforts and lower turnover rates. In the rapidly globalizing world, therefore, employee engagement is a vital source of competitive advantage for all the departments (Dajani, 2015, p. 138). Since the concept of employee engagement increased its popularity, its definition, measurement, and conceptualizations have undergone remarkable changes in the recent years. This has resulted in the development of the practitioner approach and the academic approach to engagement of employees.

The practitioner approach

The practitioner approach view’s employee engagement as a psychological state within the employee that has many outcomes. The organization plays an important role in fostering employee engagement within the firm. This approach states that there is need to align individual or team performance with organizational objectives and success such that workers understand their immense contribution to the firm (Patro, 2013, p. 3). As such, there is need to create organizational cultures that value, encourage and respect employees to facilitate job satisfaction. Moreover, organizations need to offer employees a free environment where they can express themselves and be creative without fearing negative outcomes. Employee engagement is also conceived as an emotional state where people fully involve themselves in their organizational roles and where they have an intellectual and emotional connection with their responsibilities.

The academic approach

The academic approach, on the other hand, is concerned with describing and validating the psychological concepts in an organization. Employee engagement is defined according to its psychological state, the behavior it produces and the traits that people portray (Dajani, 2015, p. 139).As a trait, employee engagement seeks to understand individuals from their states of engagement, which is reflected in a behavioral disposition. However, Newman and Harrison argued that employee engagement is portrayed by performance in the workplace, citizenship behavior and involvement. In employee engagement as a psychological state, engaged workers involve their sense of self in their organizational obligations.

Engaged workers invest their resources such as energy, time and effort for successful completion of their work. In this case, engagement occurs when people use their strengths in the form of cognitive, physical and emotional in their workplace responsibilities. Engaged employees are absorbed and entirely focused on their work. As a behavioral outcome, employee engagement is a reciprocal relationship aimed at benefiting the employees and employers (Patro, 2013, p. 4). Overall, the academic definitions of employee engagement state that engaged employees portray full involvement in their tasks work with energy and vigor. This is consistent with the organization’s view that engagement as an outcome. However, the academic explanation does not outline what organizations do practically to facilitate the state of engagement or achieve desirable outcomes.

The benefits of employee engagement and the impact this has on organizational performance

Employee engagement in the organization is explained through Maslach et al.’s Burnout-antithesis approach, Kahn’s need-satisfying approach, Sak’s Multidimensional approach and Harter et al.’s satisfaction-engagement approach (Shuck, 2011, p. 6). These approaches unanimously agree that employee engagement within an organization significantly impacts essential organizational outcomes. Kahn stated that employee engagement is a motivation variable that involves the intrinsic and extrinsic aspects facilitating the use of an employee’s full self when performing responsibilities while at work. Besides being engaged in the self, the employee is also engaged in the activity emotionally, physically and cognitively.

Meaningfulness shows that employees added significance and value to their work and got feedback detailing their usefulness in the firm. Safety showed employees’ need to trust the organization in the cognitive, emotional and behavioral domains. In addition, this entails the need for employees to understand their responsibilities concerning the organizational expectations (Shuck, 2011, p. 6). Availability implies the need for employees to possess the available resources in the physical, emotional and psychological aspects. The resources could be tangible such as human power, supplies and finances while intangible in the form of learning opportunities, skill development and commitment to the firm.

Maslach et al.’s approach stated that employee engagement increases individual performance in his/her roles. This perspective noted that burnout mostly affected employees in professions that require intensive interactions with people such as healthcare and front office. As such, employee engagement acted as an antithesis to job engagement (Shuck, 2011, p. 8). Therefore, well-being is considered as a vital function that increases human strength leading to employee engagement. Engagement results as an opposite feature to three dimensions of burnout: exhaustion, ineffectiveness and cynicism. Under this approach, exhaustion is a central feature in burnout that results when one is depleted of the physical and emotional resources. Cynicism defines a state of being completely detached from the job while ineffectiveness led to feelings of incompetence, lack of achievement and productivity at the workplace.

Harter et al.’s satisfaction engagement approach stipulates that employee engagement creates the need to be involved in work activities. In this regard, it leads to lower turnover rates, safety, increased profitability and productivity (Shuck, 2011, p. 10). This usually happens when managers rate their employee’s levels of effectiveness and when supervisor’s rate their manager’s levels of effectiveness. As such, the highest performing and profitable departments in an organization comprise of people working with colleagues they like, doing what interests them and having a strong sense of psychological ownership.

Sak’s multidimensional approach notes that employee engagement developed from a social exchange model. In regards to this, employee engagement results from job engagement and organizational engagement. Employee engagement is seen to be resulting from cognitive, behavioral and emotional components related to one’s performance at the workplace (Shuck, 2011, p. 12). Employee engagement results from job characteristics, perceived organizational support and procedural justice. Besides, employee engagement is also impacted by job satisfaction, organizational commitment and intentions to quit working. Also, having a supportive workplace environment, job characteristics and fairness affects employee engagement. Employee engagement, in this case, spans the physical, emotional and psychological concepts leading to absorption of one’s resources into the work they are performing.

Employee engagement is related to increased job performance and organizational performance (Patro, 2013, p. 3). In this regard, employee engagement is conceptualized as a financial or non-financial value added by employees when they contribute directly or indirectly to the fulfillment of the set organizational objectives. Employee engagement has a great positive influence on organizational performance indicators such as job satisfaction, turnover rates, productivity, organizational commitment and safety. Employee engagement is also related to organizational commitment. This leads to increased job satisfaction, low turnover rates, increased job performance and decreased absenteeism among employees. Organizational commitment facilitates the belief and acceptance of the goals and values holding the firm together such as the willingness to use considerable effort in doing activities related to the firm and a strong desire to continue working in the company (Dajani, 2015, p. 141).

Patro (2013, p. 4) observed that organizational commitment exists in three dimensions. These dimensions include affective commitment, which involves employee emotional attachment towards the firm, continuance commitment, which is about awareness of the expenses attributed to normative commitment and leaving an organization, which involves one’s moral obligation to remain in the firm. Employee engagement, which breeds employee loyalty, is an important feature that is associated with a firm’s positive relations with employee behaviors that foster employee retention and commitment. The affective commitment perspective is the most beneficial to a firm since it affects how employees perform and how they reciprocate with engagement when they receive support from the company (Dajani, 2015, p, 141).

Companies that use employee engagement in their activities

Southwest Airlines is built in active employee engagement, which increases firm productivity. The company has managed to keep employee engagement levels high over the years and currently, it has some committed and enthusiastic people who work hard towards the realization of its objectives (Maier, 2016, par. 5). The company gives employees the freedom to design their uniforms and encourages teamwork among them. Besides, the highest performing employees are rewarded on a weekly basis. This portrays that employees are highly valued by the firm and that their hard work and commitment is recognized.

Google has also achieved employee engagement through transparency. Through this, the company intends to break the cultural barriers and is reflected in behavioral habits. Employees spend a considerable amount of their time performing activities outside of their formal roles hence facilitating a creative culture in the firm.

  1. 2: Learning from the perspective of the employee and from the perspective of the employer and how organizations can create effective learning and development programs from their leaders and managers

Learning from the employee perspective

Career development in the workplace is focused on bridging the gap between the firm’s current and future performance. Workers are increasingly pursuing organizations that offer employment opportunities as well as extending their interests, personality and abilities. Employees seek more than a paycheck and benefits and their loyalty and commitment to the organization depends on the active involvement of the employer in fulfilling these needs (Mamon, 2014, p. 27). Career development is an important aspect that facilitates individual performance in the organization. However, most of the organizations do not recognize the need to offer employees career development programs. Career development happens through the continuous acquisition of managerial or professional skills that lead to rewards and recognition.

Since human resource is an essential factor in the success of organizations, the skills held by employees determine the performance of the firm currently and in future. Offering training opportunities affect the firm’s efficiency. In the modern business world, organizations use career development opportunities as an impetus to improve organizational performance and productivity (Cho, 2007, p. 128). When employees are offered learning opportunities within the firm, they are motivated to work harder for the realization of the organizational goals. This facilitates employee engagement that ensures that employees use their emotional, physical and psychological aspects in the achievement of the company goals.

Organizations use several training practices to enhance employee performance. Training is one of the most critical systems that help improve employee performance. Training opportunities enhance job satisfaction among employees. Job satisfaction occurs when employees are happy about their roles hence are engaged in the job (Mamon, 2014, p. 28). Job satisfaction reduces turnover rates among employees and increases their engagement. Besides, learning enhances worker commitment within the organization. Commitment results in lower turnover rates among employees, which increases firm productivity. Employee commitment also ensures that employees remain focused on achieving the visions of the firm.

Learning also increases collective empowerment that facilitates the building of helpful teams that help in realizing organizational objectives. An effectively working organization comprises of various groups that work together for the betterment of the firm. Within such an organization, individuals realize that they cannot achieve the objectives autonomously but can only do so in units (Cho, 2007, p. 129). Also, learning facilitates the synchrony of various teams within the organization that work hard towards the realization of a common objective. As such, groups within the firm develop through the five major steps such as forming, storming, norming, performing and disbandment. Through learning, members develop a shared understanding that improves their performance and enhances the performance of the firm.

Learning also enhances employee’s skills that lead to improved performance in the workplace. Skills are either inborn or acquired characteristic through learning or education. As such, learning within the organization is aligned with the firm’s corporate strategy. There is a direct relationship between corporate success and employee development (Cho, 2007, p. 137). In addition, learning enables employees to navigate the rapid changes happening in the technology and business worlds. In this case, learning offers a continuous, work-based activity that gives the knowledge to meet the increasing consumer demands and develop a competitive advantage over other rival companies.

Learning also enables organizations to tap into outside knowledge and learn new ways of conducting activities. This is by creating learning partnerships with other organizations (Mamon, 2014, p. 29). As such, employees learn how to work in unfamiliar conditions; hence they must learn how to integrate into a new culture and how to process new information and use it for the betterment of the company. Learning with people from diverse backgrounds helps employees to uphold diversity within the work environment characterized by respect and tolerance. Besides, learning helps employees to develop a productive culture within the organization through teamwork.

Learning from the employers perspective

Learning among the employers is related to the use of pay-focused approaches. Through learning, employers understand better ways of using both money and non-money based strategies to pay employees. Pay based strategies include the use of compensation (salaries and wages) and benefits while non-money based approaches include the rewards employers use to entice employees (Chubb & Peter, 2010, p. 5). These rewards are based on the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation strategies focused on the employees to increase their productivity. They include factors such as acknowledgment, offering feedback, performance-based rewards, vacations and caring for the employee’s well-being. Through learning, employers will better understand the kind of pay they will use among various sections of employees that will motivate them to work harder.

Learning also enables employers to implement flexible working practices for the workers. In most cases, employers offer rigid working schedules that deny employees time with their families. As such, workers fail to strike a work/life balance that can be physically, emotionally and/or psychologically draining (Crossan, Anne-Marie & Vida, 2010, p. 34). Learning helps organizations to implement flexible working patterns such as reduced hours, working at specific hours of the day, working from home, working for a short time and working on a part-time basis. The benefits of offering flexible hours in the organization have been documented in various resources. However, most firm administrations have not been convinced since it is believed to benefit the employees more. Employers who offer flexible working hours to their employees so that the labor supply matches the business needs and individual requests document benefits such as reduced absenteeism, low turnover rates, high employee engagement and productivity and increased employee retention.

Learning enables employers to understand how to maintain employee engagement in the organization. Employee engagement defines workers positive attitudes towards the organization and its values. Engaged employees work hard to improve their performance hence facilitating organizational productivity. As such, the firm needs to develop strategies that will retain the engaged employees (Chubb & Peter, 2010, p. 7). This can be achieved by establishing positive reciprocal relationships between the employers and the employees. Employers need to cultivate a culture that upholds honesty, integrity and trust which ultimately breeds employee loyalty and commitment to the firm. Through improved employee performance, firm productivity increases, which is reflected by better services to the customers leading to more sales and increased firm revenues.

Besides, through learning, employers focus on the key enablers of the business. Through this, the employer can use the appropriate cost-saving strategies without hurting the firm. The employer is focused on using both short term and long term financial strategies that keep the organization operational (Crossan, Anne-Marie & Vida, 2010, p. 35). This approach is targeted at reducing the cost pressures on various departments in the organization. It is also about applying a wide scope while solving the issues related to the firm. To avoid the one-man’s-show perspective in handling problems, the employer consults a range of stakeholders within the company and outside since the decisions made will affect the future performance of the firm.

Learning also fosters a shared understanding between the employer, the management, stakeholders and shareholders of the firm. Most organizations seek employee engagement without realizing that the employer determines the level of employee engagement in the firm. As such, employers should seek to develop a shared understanding among all the stakeholders in the organization. Any decision made such as a rise in compensation, offering vocations and rewards should be offered to all the employees and managers (Chubb & Peter, 2010, p. 10). In addition, punishment should be done in a way that corrects the mistake as opposed to condemning the individual. As such, employers should portray impartiality and justice while interacting with stakeholders. Effective two-way communication is paramount in this case, which means that subordinates can voice their opinions without being harshly judged.

How organizations can create effective learning and development programs from their leaders and managers

Leadership entails having the power to influence or change the values, beliefs, behaviors and attitudes of the followers. Management involves the aspect of taking care of the organizational resources and distributing them fairly to all the departments. It also involves managing the human resource in the firm to increase employee productivity in the firm. The roles of the leaders and managers are usually intertwined in the firm (Hao & Rashad, 2015, p. 1). An effective leader in the organization becomes a good role model to the employees since he/she gains trust and admiration from the workers. A strong leader can positively influence employees to achieve optimal productivity hence improving the functioning of the organization. Leaders urge employees to work as teams to help achieve the goals of the firm. Leaders have a clear vision for the company hence can detect the problems and obstacles arising and efficiently resolve them. As a result, leaders employ the essential reforms that align the current and future objectives of the firm.

Effective managers and leaders encourage employees to learn though motivation in the form of rewards or promotions. Learning is an essential way that helps improve the overall performance of the firm. Leaders need to ensure that all the stakeholders in the firm learn to improve their skills in the performance of their responsibilities. Managers need to learn to offer an example to the subordinates (Hao & Rashad, 2015, p. 3). Leaders and managers need to participate in learning programs to strengthen their skills and knowledge in their work; hence effectively executing their responsibilities. Besides, employees should participate in learning programs to help sharpen their skills and ability to do the job and in facilitating the changes required. This approach leads to improved performance among the employees, consequently increasing firm productivity. Learning does not have an end hence leaders should continuously strive to improve their leadership, managerial skills and knowledge to increase their competitiveness in the business world.


Effective leadership and management are essential for the sustainability of the organization in the face of increased globalization. Leaders take control of the functions of the organization while managers distribute the organizational resources effectively. Good leaders facilitate the functioning of the organization by directing employees towards increasing productivity. Besides, leaders strengthen a positive organizational culture by offering fair compensation and benefits to the employees. In addition, leaders use their skills and knowledge to guide the business effectively and efficiently towards an uncertain future. Since a leader can influence the success of the organization, learning can be used as a strategy that fosters high performance among workers in the firm through employee engagement.


















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