5 key ingredients for strong employee engagement

30th Dec 2015

Leading by example, a report produced by the Institute of Customer Service, examines leadership from the perspective of senior executives in some of the UK’s leading organisations. It shows that the following five leadership qualities are intrinsic to employee engagement – a key source of competitive advantage for any business.

1. Emotional intelligence

The importance of emotional intelligence in business leaders has grown because of the diverse make-up of the employee base, the increasing pace of change and the need for everyone in an organisation to respond to rising customer expectations.

2. Behavioural consistency

Chief executives and senior management teams set the tone for how people behave throughout an organisation, reinforcing the importance of leadership values such as honesty, trustworthiness and approachability. The way in which leaders react to news can be a key benchmark of emotional intelligence, with important consequences for employee engagement across an organisation, so it’s important to consider how an individual’s behaviour might influence others.

3. Visibility

Leaders need to be approachable and encourage employees to interact with them. CEOs and senior management teams need to work to close the gap between themselves and their people, whether by sharing long-term strategies or explaining the factors driving quarterly results.

In large and complex organisations, it can be difficult for employees to relate their own roles and objectives to corporate goals. Leaders can use a wide range of media and vehicles to communicate the organisation’s mission and purpose to employees, including social media, video or newsletters; but traditional ‘management by walking about’ is a staple of engagement.

4. Knowing when to set boundaries

Establishing a genuine dialogue with employees means being honest about the terms of engagement, as it is important to create as open an environment as possible for employees to be creative. However, organisational context may influence style of leadership and engagement.

5. Long-term focus

Employee engagement, like commitment to customer service, requires a long-term focus. However, this can be challenging in a climate that demands short-term results. According to research conducted by the Institute of Customer Service, some employees are sceptical about their leaders’ motivations for, or commitment to, listening and engaging with staff. Leaders need to acknowledge these concerns, maintain focus and continue to demonstrate their commitment.

To read the Institute's Leading by example report in full, click here.

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