Most of my clients are engaged in some sort of engagement survey (pun intended). The Gallup organization (which may have started this whole movement with their surveys) keeps a running percentage of “engaged” employees on their web site, currently sitting at 34.2%. You mean that only a third of our employees are engaged at work? How could our companies possibly survive (at least for long) with a figure that low?
Well, part of the problem is that’s the wrong question. AON Hewitt did a nice job of grappling with this issue. In an article titled “What makes someone an engaging leader?” they explain that the two don’t necessarily go together. The most sustained approach is to push for both financial performance and employee engagement.
Based on conversations I’m having with almost every client, this need for both profitability and employee engagement, mainly leading to innovative ideas to deal with major disruptions, is ongoing and impactful.
AON Hewitt continues the conversation by listing the attributes that create engaging leaders.
I’m going to connect and contrast this one with Humility which is next on the list. Most people would look at those two works and say “Aren’t we dealing with an oxymoron? How can you be self-confident and humble at the same time?” I don’t mean to put words in the mouths of the AON Hewitt people because I believe they could defend their choice of words very effectively. But for clarification purposes let me use the word self-esteem. I have found though the years that it takes a lot of self-esteem to be humble. The idea is that you are very comfortable with who you are and why you’re there. Maslow in his hierarchy of needs would likely refer to this as self-actualized. It reminds me of a commercial with several recognizable athletes doing silly things and ending the commercial with the words. I’m so-and-so and I’m very comfortable in my skin. People who don’t seem to have a reasonable level of self-esteem have difficulty being humble because they always have a need to prove themselves (to themselves mostly).
When we first included Compassion as one of the eight essential elements of great leadership as described in our book “Trust Me: Developing a leadership style that people will follow” I took a little grief from my hard-nosed executives. After listening to them about how they had to be tough not compassionate I always ended the conversation with the old adage “I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.” If you want people to care about what you know, let them know that you care about who they are.
This word seems to be synonymous with the word Team. Building a great team connecting strong people for a single purpose.
My conclusion is that if you want engaged employees, learn to be a humble leader, create great teams, accomplish your collective purpose. All people want to be engaged in doing something worthwhile.