It’s more important than ever for business leaders of today to empower their employees. Setting them up for success is all about allowing for collaboration and engagement, and abandoning the “command-and-control” management style of old. This idea is the focus of Dan Pontefract’s title, Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization.

In the book, Pontefract explains the performance advantages engaged firms have. He then champions leadership practices where employees see the need for performing better, have the courage to strive for it, and pursue it with the curiosity to learn how. All this can be enhanced with the help of technologies that accelerate the path to better.

Here are four key takeaways for creating a connected and engaged sales team:

1. Engagement requires empowerment

Firms who connect with and engage their employees achieve better results, by design. They’re not commanding and controlling their way to better. They’re coaching, measuring, adapting, exploring, and bettering. In such firms, the culture is 'coordinate and cultivate'. It shows. Empowered employees can and will do the right thing when it counts.

2. Empowerment requires learning at the speed of need 

Getting there requires, as Pontefract says, learning at the speed of need. He also says that metrics, done right, can make everyone see the need to learn new ways to achieve better. In his view, scorecards aren't just for baseball managers. Done right, metrics illuminate dot-connections between quantitative and qualitative; between activity and progress. It's the antithesis of being unable to fix mistakes you can't see. Seeing things differently is crucial.

3. It’s not as simple as you might think

Efforts at creating employee engagement often fail from an unrealistic expectation that if you do this, perfect results will magically accrue. This idea is similar to what Richard Axelrod refers to it as plug-and-play activities, saying, “successful employee engagement isn't about plugging in a set of tools and techniques that you just read about then expecting engaged employees to magically appear.”

4. Getting there may feel uncomfortable, but that’s okay

According to Pontefract, building engaged organizations as a path to better results requires several things: being uncomfortable with the status quo, anticipating bumps and barriers so that change can occur, seeking, relentlessly, to improve despite uncertainties, avoiding perfection as the goal, and being accountable to yourself.

About the Author

FJohn Cousineau is the founder and CEO of innovative information inc., makers of Amacus, a solution that improves B2B sales productivity by letting sales teams discover and improve the buyer value of sales practices.@jcousineau.