In an article, recently placed on Blog on Meirc’s website, titled Employee Engagement”, the author highlighted the main employee engagement drivers as identified in a recent Global Survey*. These included:
- Senior management sincerely interested in employee well-being.
- Input into decision making in my department.
- Good relationship with my supervisor.
- Organization encourages innovation.
This survey identified that first and foremost amongst employees, and before you can have an engaged workforce, organizations must have effective and engaged-leadership at the top.
An indication of how many participants (out of over 90,000 globally) agreed with the following statements on 5 key leadership behaviours is shown below.
- 38% Senior management in our organization is sincerely interested in employee well-being.
- 38% Senior management here communicates openly and honestly
- 44% Senior management we have tries to be visible and accessible
- 40% Senior management effectively communicates the reasons for key business decisions
- 49% Senior management’s actions are always consistent with the organization’s values
Source :Towers Perrin- Global Workforce Study 2007-2008
In all cases less than 50% agreeability. These confirm the results of some of Meirc’s own regionally based employee surveys (2007-2010).
One critical observation you might make is that that many of today’s leaders including those who aspire to these visible and challenging leadership roles do need to sharpen their interpersonal skills.
Part of the problem is that many top executives began their careers in specific technical disciplines such as finance or engineering. They bring primarily rational/analytical skills to their jobs, when what is an increasingly critical need is for skills and behaviors such as empathy and communication.
The need is obviously to combine both the left and right brain abilities. The new breed of leader needs to be ambidextrous for example displaying, emotional intelligence. This idea is of course is not new. In her 1924 published works, on creative leadership, author Mary Parker Follet summed up the total leadership experience with these simple and powerful words: “Leadership is not defined by the exercise of power, but by the capacity to increase the sense of power among those who are led. The most essential work of the leader is to create more leaders”. ©
If we truly recognize that there is need to close the engagement gap (see the Meirc blog dated August 23, 2010 and titled Employee Engagement), the first change has to come at the top. Organizations should ask themselves:
- Do our leaders have the mixed set of competencies needed of the ambidextrous leader?
- Are we promoting the right people, based on the correct criteria?
- Do our performance management programs emphasize the importance of the key empathy touch points such as coaching, transparency and trust?
By: Leslie Price – Meirc Training and Consulting