Quintessential leaders engage and stay engaged with other people

One thing that separates quintessential leaders from everyone else is that they initiate engagement with other people – at a relationship level – and they work very hard at being engaged and staying engaged with people at the relationship level, no matter what else they have on their plates.

While many people in leadership positions today talk about the importance of engagement with other people at the relationship level and purport themselves to be examples of that, the reality is that very little of that talk translates into sustained action.

Talk is cheap. Actions speak volumes.

And it is precisely through actions that we can discern whether we are quintessential leaders in the area of engagement with other people.

So let’s look at what quintessential leaderships looks like in engagement with other people. In the process of seeing what it does look like, we will also identify what it doesn’t look like (unquintessential leadership).

Quintessential leaders who are engaged with other people don’t let single-mindedness in attaining a goal (a thing) crowd out the ability to know, to observe, and to respond to the people they are connected with (relationships) in every area of their lives.

Quintessential leaders are attuned to one of the greatest and most valuable resources in their lives: other people whose lives intersect with theirs.

Quintessential leaders make the effort to know these people.

Quintessential leaders make the time and the effort to stay connected to these people, in good times and in bad times, in the short-term and the long-term, in fair weather and foul weather.

Quintessential leaders know these people well enough to sense Quintessential leaders are committed to staying engaged, and connected to the other people in their livesunspoken, sometimes barely perceptible, sometimes subtle changes and shifts and they stop and respond when they see them.

Quintessential leaders also stop and respond when spoken changes or shifts are expressed.

The response is not one of dismissal or reprimand or criticism, but instead one of “How can I help?”

Unquintessential leaders, on the other hand, see people as things that need to be managed – hence, my tagline: “Lead people. Manage things.” – and treat people as inanimate objects who are useful – and visible (they become invisible if they present a possible impediment or problem) – if they’re not in the way, quiet (even if it is quiet desperation, which would go unnoticed), and producing something that benefits the unquintessential leader.

There is no connection, no engagement, no relationship with the people whose lives intersect with theirs. The goal – theirs personally or theirs organizationally – is the only thing that matters to them. The people be damned.

The irony?

Unquintessential leaders view engagement with others only in terms of what's in it for me?These same unquintessential leaders are the ones who are the most incessant and most vocal about how relationships (connection, engagement) matter, and how people need to be in tune with and responsive to the people their lives intersect with.

In other words, they don’t practice what they preach (quintessential leaders don’t talk about it – they do it). And their actions speak louder than all the words they could ever say.

Quintessential leaders don’t break the engagement – the connection, the relationship – with other people whose lives intersect with theirs when the road gets rocky and rough and those people need a safe, empathetic, comforting ear.

This is an aspect that, quite frankly, we all need improvement in doing right.

Here’s what usually happens. If we’re on the road to becoming quintessential leaders, we reach out to the people in our spheres that we either sense a change/shift in or we know are experiencing a change/shift.

While a few of these people experiencing a change/shift may initiate this contact, it is more likely the majority don’t and won’t.

But we move off the path of quintessential leadership when we initiate contact, offering the empathetic, safe, comforting ear (this means we simply listen – the people we’ve reached out to are not looking for anything, including someone to listen – because we offered to listen), and our response is dismissive, critical, judgmental, and condemning.

We’ve done more harm than if we had not done anything.

Unquintessential leaders disengage and disconnect from the people in their lives when it gets hard or there is nothing in it for themAnd we continue down the unquintessential leadership path when our response is to completely disengage from those people and criticize and condemn them to other people.

Unfortunately, we don’t have to look very far to see a lot of unquintessential leadership – even among people who are trying to become quintessential leaders – when we look at social media, because this happens every day, many times day, and affects a lot of people who don’t even realize that they’re being bullied (because this is bullying, plain and simple) in a wide-open public forum.

Before we put something out on the internet for the entire world to see, we should ask ourselves two questions:

  1. Would I say what I’m saying about this person/people to their face/faces if they were standing right in front of me?
  2. Would I want someone to say about me, in this arena, what I’m about to say about this person?

We should do this every time we get that itch in our fingers to go out and say whatever’s on our mind about whoever we’ve just interacted with.

If we don’t, then we are committing ourselves to the unquintessential leader path. Because what we do is what we become.

If we’re honest with ourselves – that means me and that means you – I think we will all find ourselves lacking somewhere with one or more of the people whose lives intersect with ours in this area of what quintessential leadership looks like.

Some of us will be lacking a little. Some of us will be lacking a lot. And some of us will find we don’t even have anything at all in this area.

That’s okay. Life is about learning and we have much to learn – and much we won’t learn – until we draw our last breath.

When things are not okay is when we ignore an opportunity to learn, or we learn and choose to dismiss it, do nothing with the knowledge to change, or we deceive ourselves into thinking it doesn’t apply to us.

Sadly, this happens all the time. But each time it happens – and this applies to me and it applies to you – at that point, we are heading at full speed down the unquintessential leader path.

Where are you today?

Are you a quintessential leader acting like a quintessential leader?

Are you a quintessential leader acting like an unquintessential leader?

Are you an unquintessential leader who doesn’t care and will not change?

If you are a quintessential leader who is acting like an unquintessential leader, will you have the courage and honesty to admit it or will you just ignore it, believing, erroneously that it applies to everybody else but you?

And, if you do have the courage and the honesty to admit it, then are you going to do anything about it?

What are you going to do about it?

And when are you going to do it?


  1. […] that they know what the other person means by a word or a gesture, quintessential leaders engage with the person to find out what is behind the word or the […]


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