Employee Engagement Strategies: Part 3 – How Leaders Drive Results


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By: Corry Robertson, PCC

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Employee Engagement Strategies: Part 3 – How Leaders Drive Results

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series I discussed how to assess the level of engagement your employees have and how creating purpose will beat out raises and bonuses every time.  Now it’s time to talk about the role of leadership in your engagement strategy.

Tech leaders can and must create a spirited, purpose-driven workplace if they want to develop high-performance teams that drive results.  I often find in my work that leaders see engagement as an employee problem, or as an objective in a talent strategy, and don’t make the connection that at its core, employee engagement is a leadership issue.

The important takeaway is that a weak leadership culture is at the root of low engagement. 

The true cost of weak leadership

Here are some hard facts about the so-called “soft skills” that tech leaders often think of as less important when hiring.

Up to 40% of a company’s performance is negatively impacted by a poor leader.

Poor leadership is costing the average company an amount equal to 7% of their annual revenue. That’s over a million dollars a year for any organization with $15 million dollars or more in annual sales.

The war on talent is raging more than ever.

The prime pool for potential tech managers today are people who are 26-55 years of age (Generation X and Generation Y) and this group declined in population between 1998-2008. In practical terms, the talent pool is shrinking and the war on talent is heating up.

Losing talented managers costs a fortune. 

In addition to the shrinking numbers of potential managers this group is also known to change jobs every 18-24 months.

Weak or nonexistent leadership development programs also cost a fortune.

When you promote people who are technically brilliant your goal is to move your company forward with their particular skills. The problem is, these new team leaders have never been taught how to manage or lead people.  

I often see this in the tech firms I work with. When a leadership development program is not in place, these newly promoted or hired employees create an organizational culture that simply doesn’t drive results, even though they are extremely talented.

Truer now than ever before: People don’t leave jobs or companies, they leave bad managers.

It is crucial to understand that people don’t leave jobs or companies. They leave bad managers and bad managers flourish where bad management is tolerated by the leadership culture.

So how do we create a leadership culture that drives employee engagement?  It needs to begin at the top.

As Karl Moore states in his Forbes article, Leadership Engagement always trumps Employee Engagement

“To get great employee engagement you must first start with engaging the top leadership. Companies that are highly engaged have one thing in common: They have highly engaged leadership at all levels of the organization…The engagement of an organization’s executive team is the starting point and is the most critical element in the engagement of any organization, yet is often overlooked for a variety of reasons.”

A common thread I see at companies I work with is that leaders delegate the responsibility of creating an employee engagement strategy to their HR professional, often because they see this as a talent retention issue, and not an integral part of a results-driven growth strategy.

This kind of thinking can be very costly, but the solution can be cost-effective.

Building a coaching culture creates results

How do we build an engaged workforce, an engaged leadership culture, and a company that achieves its targets and gets results? Building a coaching culture ticks all those boxes.

A coaching culture is one where leaders embrace coaching as a management style throughout the organization. Coaching is used as a process that inspires people to maximize their personal and professional potential. 

Put another way, coaching is applied leadership theory so the case for building a coaching culture to unlock potential and activate performance is compelling.

The next installment in this series will explore how a leadership development program that uses the “Leader-As-Coach” strategy has seen incredible success at companies like IBM, the BBC, the United Nations, and Coca-Cola.

Have you ever considered a coaching leadership program at your company?  Let me know in the comments!


This article is part of a series on Employee Engagement.  

You can read more here:

Employee Engagement Strategies:  Part 1 – Understanding The Zones of Engagement

Employee Engagement Strategies:  Part 2  – Igniting Purpose to Fuel Engagement

Employee Engagement Strategies:  Part 3  – How Leaders Drive Results

Employee Engagement Strategies: Part 4 – Coaching Cultures and Engagement


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Corry Robertson

Sought-after coaching culture expert, Corry Robertson has been helping leaders uplevel employee retention and performance for over 20 years.

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