11th June 2013

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by: Jo Dodds

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Categories: Engage for Success Blog

Engagement through the CEOs eyes – part 1

Listening to the presentations this morning, it’s interesting to hear that CEOs also struggle to define employee engagement…. And if you can’t define it, can you measure it? Could this be the first blocker for CEOs engaging with engagement?

Employee Engagement through CEO eyes

But the key focus for the research was to ask CEOs what gets in the way? And perhaps most importantly to ask the question “why isn’t it happening yet?”

The report is well worth a look, but to summarize, the key themes emerging are:

1. The leadership landscape is changing. Tomorrow’s leaders will look very different to leaders of today, but how?

2. Engagement appears to be one of the most challenging demands of leadership, being an engaging leader is not easy. Do we need different approaches to leadership development?

3. What prevalent model will take the place of command and control? Do we need leadership experimenters to help define leadership 2.0 and what will this look like?

4. There is more to leadership than leadership, we have a collective preoccupation with short term performance and hard results, which limits us when it comes to engaging our people

So what does an engaging CEO actually look like – I’d love to hear views on this. The report talks about the ability to forge deep and trusting relationships, leading with emotion and authenticity, as well as openness and honesty.

In answer to the question “What stops them” the following themes came up:

1. Leadership capability – having the right skills to engage is not as straightforward as it sounds, this is a challenge at every level of the organisation

2. The leaders themselves – leader’s own personality and values have a big impact on how or if they engage

3. The culture, system and hierarchies – the system is set up to promote the wrong behaviours; focus on short-termism, out dated leadership models, the list goes on…

The debate in the room touched a number of times as to whether we need to remind CEOs of the link between employee engagement and performance. We all agreed they get it, they know there is a link to performance, but in an academic, abstract way. We somehow need to bring this to life for them, take it from a great case study on a page in a report to something they can touch and feel, something they can buy into, something they can understand and something which inspires them to want to go and do the same in their own organisation. This is our real challenge.

Despite the 60+ definitions, engagement isn’t rocket science. People get it and they know it makes sense. But it is hard to get right, even for CEOs. We all know an engaged workforce makes sense, but we still have some work to do to get there.

Part 2 coming soon…