Not so long ago, Charles de Gaulle, the French general and statesman, emphasised the value of a military leader when he said: “Men are of no importance. What counts is who commands.” Somehow, in business, this cultural norm persists, certainly amongst shareholders it seems, given their continued approval of dizzyingly high levels for renumeration for the person at the top.
The Guardian has shared a recent update: ‘Pay for UK Bosses is “absurdly high”‘. Based upon a report from the London School of Economics, headhunters claim that for every appointment of a CEO, another 100 people could have filled the role just as ably, and many leaders who were chosen were “mediocre”.
One headhunter added: “I think that the wage drift [for CEOs] over the past 10 years, or the salary drift, has been inexcusable, incomprehensible, and it is very serious for the social fabric of the country”.
Happily – albeit rather slowly – a growing cohort of leaders are building value for their stakeholders by considering the social fabric within their own firms: the employees. A key question these leaders have addressed is how much competitive advantage can be gained by improving employee engagement. They’ve swapped out the notion that, principally, only their strategic actions can affect the bottom line, and swapped in the conviction that leading differently can mean employees will consistently go the extra mile for them. A transformation of culture and business performance combined
Further research from IBM – Leadership and employee engagement – reports that employees subconsciously ask five questions of leaders:
- Can this person clearly communicate where the organisation is headed?
- Can they handle the organisation’s challenges?
- Are they committed to delivering high-quality products and services?
- Do they believe that employees are important to the organisation’s success?
- Do I have confidence in their overall capabilities?
Employees who perceive their leaders as effective have an engagement level that is three-to-five times higher than those who feel their leaders are ineffective.
Most people recognise that employee engagement is merely a means to an end. In other words, organisations that want to drive high levels of business success need motivated and engaged employees to get there! But in order to instil a higher level of engagement and sustain it, leaders need to be very aware of the impact of their own values and behaviour.