This Month’s Top Reads On Leadership, Company Culture & Employee Engagement

By David Mizne

Every organization from high-growth startups to large established corporations must focus on certain aspects of the business in order to succeed. While it’s difficult for leaders to prioritize where they should focus their attention, three critical themes consistently emerge – leadership development, employee engagement and company culture.

Below are the top September articles from around the web covering these topics, published on sites like Forbes and Harvard Business Review. Information and advice has been extracted and condensed for your reading pleasure, but the full articles offer many more insights.

1) Leadership Engagement Always Trumps Employee Engagement

By: Karl Moore

For employees, alignment, fulfillment of purpose, pride in one’s work and a sense of belonging all flow from high engagement. But focusing on creating more of that in your employees won’t work, instead the focus should be on engaging top company leaders.

Unfortunately, engagement on the executive team is often overlooked. A major problem here is that this facet of the company is often delegated to human resources. Team engagement is then scored and leaders sometimes even receive performance bonuses based on the scores. This practice fails to address the core issues on the team. Moore provides a short list of factors for organizations to look at before creating action plans or implementing employee engagement surveys.

2) Upping Employee Engagement: What Your Team Wants but Doesn’t Get at Work

By: Michael Henman

Employees can often feel like cogs in the machine, so Henman recommends regularly soliciting feedback on work matters. Increasing engagement through feedback isn’t just  logical, it’s supported by research. Businesses who follow this advice have turnover rates that are 14.9% lower than those that don’t.

Every member of the team wants to receive feedback from their manager that clarifies expectations and shows how individual tasks align with larger team and organizational goals. Regular feedback can be supplemented by monthly one-on-one meetings and quarterly performance appraisals, where progress can be openly discussed and courses corrected. Read the full article for 3 more tips about what employees need to be more engaged.

3) The Difference Between Good Leaders and Great Ones

By: James R. Bailey

Bailey is an author and professor of leadership development at George Washington University. He doesn’t believe that leaders progress on a continuum from bad to great via hard work and experience. Rather, great and good leadership have “distinctly different characteristics and paths”.

Great leaders excite and stimulate people into action with their power, but they don’t necessarily act on moral grounds. The force of great leadership often eclipses good leaders who are values based but less dynamic. Greatness is irrational and often inexplicable. Goodness is aspirational and looks to find benefits that impact the group field. Which type of leader are you? 

4) The Psychology of Leadership

By: Neil Fogarty

The definition of leadership has changed. Hard skills like business knowledge and technical know-how are insufficient. Today’s leaders are expected to be open-minded, relationship-oriented, flexible and supportive. Fogarty criticizes (but does not outright dismiss) established leadership theories like traits theory and behavioral styles theory.

He recognizes the need for continuous leadership development like social emotional learning and performance coaching. One skill that is often overlooked is reflection: “take the time and space to look at how you have felt, thought and acted, and how this will inform your next move”.

5) The Millennial CEO’s Playbook for Managing Corporate Culture

By: Brian Pallas

Millennials are slowly becoming the largest segment of the American workforce. Pallas recruits heavily from this generation as well as Baby Boomers. Rather than following a traditional approach to developing the company’s core values, he decided to let his 60+ employees from 25 different nationalities create the culture themselves.

Pallas polled every company on their first annual retreat in 2014. They codified their shared values via collective thinking and collective ownership. As they hire new employees, they screen for these values and take advantage of the trusted professional network of employees when they recruit. Finally they use open-ended employee feedback to drive high engagement and performance. Here is a sample question:

What types of skills do you use the most day-to-day, and what do you think are your strengths?

Rather than writing some repetitive and boring conclusion, I would like to take a moment to apologize for the buzzwordy title of this post. Those of you with marketing backgrounds know that SEO optimization is critical. And what’s the point of writing a helpful article if nobody can find it?

Also, the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer (yes that’s a real thing) listed the title of this post under the “Intellectual” category, which arouses curiosity and has the broadest appeal. They also ranked the title at a 60%, which apparently makes me a gifted copywriter. Awww shucks, thanks AMI.

Now that I’ve shown you behind the curtain a bit, won’t you please share this post on social media or leave a comment below?

David Mizne is Content Manager at 15Five, employee engagement and feedback software that helps create high performing teams by combining pulse surveys, weekly check-ins, peer recognition, and people analytics all in one platform. David interviews business leaders and entrepreneurs about management techniques and ideas that impact the modern workplace. Follow him on twitter @davidmizne.

Image Credit: Vladimir Pustovit

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