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What it takes to be a ‘dream leader’

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Only 30% of U.S. full-time employees feel engaged and happy in their job, according to a Gallup study. That leaves millions of lethargic people toiling at work without a larger sense of purpose.

Employees who exhibit high ­levels of engagement tend to work for dy­­namic leaders. Some of those leaders function as what consultant Matthew Kelly calls “dream managers”—they make employees’ dreams come true. This involves showing interest in an individual’s personal and professional aspirations and supporting his or her efforts to fulfill those dreams.

Author of The Dream Manager, Kelly argues that if you take steps to help employees act on their dreams, they grow more connected, productive and loyal to you and your organization.

Here’s a real-life example. Christie Reed, a “dream manager” at Panera Bread, discovered that a shy employee with a tough upbringing in inner-city Boston wrote poetry as a hobby. His dream? To get his poems published.

He gave Reed samples of his writing, and she was stunned at his talent. Prior to her initiating a conversation to ask about his dreams, she never knew he wrote poetry.

She became his champion, helping him enroll in a poetry-writing course and schedule public readings of his work. Eventually, she made it possible for him to get his first poetry book published.

To apply this concept at your organization, meet with employees regularly to ask about their dreams. Then devise a plan to turn their dreams into reality.

— Adapted from “Engage your team—dream on,” Steve Wood, www.steveonleadership.com.

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