Leadership: Key to mobilizing employees by Marilyne Pigeon, PhD

Leadership and employee mobilization are two of the main concerns of HR specialists and company leaders in Québec, the rest of Canada and other industrialized countries (OCRH, 2015; Deloitte, 2015). This interest is not surprising given that certain authors have identified mobilizing as one of the most important determinants of organizational performance and workplace well-being (Morin & Aubé, 2007). It appears that a manager’s leadership style directly influences employee motivation and mobilization. In fact, the leaders are the ones who provide the reasons for employee mobilization, build trust in the workplace, acknowledge efforts and encourage employees through their continuous support. Without a doubt, leadership is the main catalyst in a mobilization process (Tremblay et al., 2005).

According to Tremblay and his colleagues (2005), mobilizing leaders are, first and foremost, managers who know how to build trusting relationships with their employees. To accomplish this, they are not afraid to support their employees when necessary; they insist on a deep commitment to certain fundamental values, such as respect, equity and justice. As such, these leaders frequently offer evidence of the existence and importance of these values, in particular by acting in a way that is congruent with them. Moreover, mobilizing leaders know how to present a positive and attractive long-term vision. This vision provides a meaning to each employee’s actions and the objectives to be met, thus encouraging a pooling of energies so that everyone goes beyond individual interests for the good of the group and to the benefit of a more global cause. Leaders also define relatively broad objectives to allow subordinates to make good use of their competencies and to demonstrate creativity and initiative.

In addition, these leaders master the management competencies and behaviours that foster accountability and excellence, such as delegation and development of others. In fact, they encourage employees to act autonomously by delegating responsibilities that provide them with new challenges, and allow employees to participate more actively in fulfilling the organizational mission. They are agents of empowerment, who freely share information and power. In addition, mobilizing leaders make sure that the contribution of every employee is reinforced and that mobilization behaviours are reinforced. By doing so, leaders ensure that mobilization, commitment, and behaviours that are congruent with organizational values are maintained and recurring. They also promote peer-to-peer recognition to inculcate a lasting corporate culture.

It is apparent that mobilizing leadership is quite similar to transformational leadership, a concept inspired by the work of Bass (1985), which is the leadership theory that has received the most attention from researchers over the past years. Indeed, transformational leaders lead their employees to become aware of the achieved results and to provide more effort than expected. Generally, these leaders are admired, respected and trusted by the people they come in contact with in the workplace. They are individuals that positively inspire others.

This close link between mobilizing leadership and transformational leadership is significant and important because, while the former concept is relatively recent, not widely known in professional milieus and a subject of debate in scientific milieus, the second one, in turn, is much better known and, as mentioned above, has been the subject of many studies. Consequently, valid and reliable tests can be used to identify managers who present the characteristics of these leadership styles and to support them in the development of attitudes, knowledge and competencies that are necessary to further develop their mobilizing potential. Such tests include the LEAD-R, a test that belongs to the range of COMPMETRICA tools and that was designed to evaluate leadership styles.

Marilyne Pigeon, Ph.D.
I/O Psychology