Engaged management, Habits and Manifestation

In the present rapidly changing digital era, the conventional style of management, command-and-control management, does not work anymore. In a teamwork setting, all the members should enjoy and believe in what they do and feel valued for doing it. This is the meaning of engagement. Engagement is a two-way street, where both employee and employer should be responsible for their role to ensure organizational excellence and effectiveness. The engaged management plays a significant role in empowering and engaging employees to improve productivity and ensures their alignment with organizational goals and objectives.

How engaged managers handle their relations?

Three main aspects of engaged management are: communicating with others, making decisions, and taking actions. Engaged manager’s communication and relations are built based on soft skills, which is a mixture of emotions, logic, and personal gut. While conventional methods want managers to suppress their emotions and keep their feeling out of thinking, modern theories emphasize emotions as useful pieces of data in building relations and making decisions.

On the other hand, to avoid any discrimination, managers should treat their workers fairly. For this reason, they treat everyone the same. However, accomplishing such behavior can cause trouble. Managers neglect social identity differences and blind themselves to this fact that people react and adapt to the same situation differently. Not only one should consider each person’s social identity but also his/her own social identities (e.g. age, race, gender, religion, and other affecting factors in self-confidence and self-reliance). Hence, engaged managers should apply the following rule in their interpersonal relations; “treat others the way they want to be treated”. That’s how they show their respect toward personal differences

How engaged managers make decisions?

The process of making the decision requires mindfulness and consciousness. Generally accepted, being decisive is a management habit. Managers should decide quickly and act swiftly. While in this manner, they lose perception over the complexity of the situation. Furthermore, systematic perturbations make their decisions less optimal and efficient. So it is better to replace this counterproductive behavior with developing a new one. This encourages managers to pause, slow down, and step back. This allows the manager to examine the different aspects of the situation thoroughly and even assess their feelings.

Engaged management first tool: System thinking

When it comes to thinking, managers should think systematically. To begin, the metaphor of an iceberg is used. What is observable from outside is a set of actions and reactions besides the resulting plans and structures. But what lies beneath are the assumptions, one’s beliefs, and interrelations. The iceberg metaphor consists of three layers beneath the outer layer. If we consider the outer layer the events, the first layer beneath is the behavioral patterns and trends observed within an organization. The second layer is a systemic structure. Different departments and branches of a company where employees take their daily part. Where patterns of interrelations are shaped. And the last and the deepest layer is mental models. The beliefs, assumptions, and habitual actions that underlie any reaction or decision.

Managers must behold productive habits and avoid or replace the counterproductive ones. This ability comes from mindfulness and the regular practice of the learning stance, where managers pay attention to their preoccupations and automatic patterns of their thoughts. to support the process of the learning stance managers’ should actively listen to employees’ opinions especially those who provide them with “genuine support”. Those who share their perception and reactions directly rather than leaving managers with pleasant and untruthful comments.

Engaged management second tool: Theory of U

The theory of U explains the learning stance in another format. The theory of U is the intersection between thinking and taking actions. The structure of the U is divided into two sublevels: letting go and letting come. It starts from the descending part where managers should become aware of their thoughts and beliefs. So they will be able to suspend their judgments and become more aware of the reality of their surroundings. This helps them ask the right question. Here the bottom point of the U is reached. In the ascending part managers and leaders assess the future possibilities and conduct them toward design thinking.

Design thinking as a useful skill in engaged management

Design thinking is a management tool to explore big ideas within the organization and make them happen. In 2009 Tim Brown the president of IDEO (a global design company in the US) defined design thinking as the following: ” design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as functionality, to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols”. Since the design thinking purpose is to explore new ideas and finding unique patterns it does not follow a linear instruction and it demands divergent thinking. In other words, it does not necessarily follow a step-by-step procedure.

All the above mentioned skills, thinking, Theory of U and design thinking are the essential set of skills in the 21st century in the hands of managers. They help them in dealing with complexities and perturbations due to globalization.


Marques, Joan. Engaged Leadership Transforming through Future-Oriented Design Thinking. Springer, 2018.

By: Yassaman Djafari. August 2020