“We believe in our mission and values. We are a connected company, and our engagement is strong.
Our people believe in what we do. In fact, we have a leadership development session coming soon where we are bringing in a world-class mountain climber to talk about being a leader.”
This was what I heard from a CEO who I had just met. I must say I was impressed, that is until I met with their head of HR sometime later. She was incredulous and just shook her head.
That conversation came back into focus this week as I read a recent Gallup study titled A Company’s Purpose Has to Be a Lot More Than Words. I was informed that Mr. CEO I had heard from is the same guy who comes in every morning and walks through the workspace headed directly to his office without offering even the most basic pleasantry, “Good Morning.” He goes into his office and closes the door. So much for being connected.
For organizations to thrive, employees must thrive too
In the business of engagement, there is always a disconnect between the leadership’s view and their workforce’s view.
That is why I applaud leaders that not only talk the talk but live it in any and every way possible. At a recent luncheon with a good friend who is the CEO of a progressive high growth company, we talked about how every communique in her organization is wrapped around the importance of their people.
Regardless of the announcement, the people factor is always a big part of it. She told me of how the founding CEO of her company is known for stopping in the lobby and approaching job seekers who are waiting to be interviewed and engaging them in conversation. It is called walking the walk.
You can’t get away with it anymore
You can’t just boast about offering a good paycheck and figure that is going to do it. A company’s purpose has to be a lot more than words.
Companies today must demonstrate a strong commitment to purpose, which is necessary to build a strong organizational identity. It is not cool today to be an arrogant organization. There is an awareness among the employee base that has changed the dynamics of engagement.
Though most leaders can readily discuss their organization’s ideal identity, they often struggle with making the strategic decisions that reinforce the organization’s commitment to its purpose on an everyday basis.
REAL leaders walk the talk
Trust in an organization originates from the tone that comes out of the C-Suite. Try and imagine a family structure where the leader of that family unit, whether it is a man or a woman, does not exude trust. That is the mark of a dysfunctional family.
Are your leaders seen as realistic and consistent by modeling and reflecting the organizational values? If not, you have a huge problem on your hands.
Leaders that DO walk-the-talk know that the benefit of creating an environment that deepens engagement and involvement will have a profound impact on business results and performance. We know that people join organizations, but they leave managers and organizations, so it is important that all of your leadership team truly understands this profound dynamic.
What is the currency in your organization?
Every leader today has to understand the importance of this trust factor in establishing the tone and making sure that this is maintained throughout.
That is why internal communication is so important. How do you, as a leader, be clear about what you do and what you expect from your people? This aloofness that so many leaders wear as a badge of honor is a long-gone style that will never be resurrected. Leaders today simply have to connect.
I recall a conversation with an HR head that they were running an internal initiative, and one of the winning “gifts” would be a dinner with the CEO. It was hard for me to keep a straight face on that one.
I could just imagine the winner realizing that they would have to endure a two-hour dinner with their leader. On the other hand, if this was the down to earth and engaged leader, I could envision a joyful 2-3 hour meal.
One of the biggest barriers to successful change is poor communication and unclear priorities. So my advice to this leadership culture is that every morning you look into that mirror, make sure your words and actions are in sync.
You cannot fake it anymore. The cat is out of the bag.