Political Division Adds to Employee Engagement Woes: Stop Them Both with This Strategy

SmartBrief on Leadership Article

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The combination of rising political division and declining employee engagement levels present a significant challenge for organizations.

However, by training leaders and managers to cultivate cultures of connection, we can create workplaces where employees thrive despite their differences. This not only enhances individual and team performance but also contributes to a more harmonious and productive organizational culture. It is time for leaders to take proactive steps in building connected cultures that transcend political differences and foster a more engaged, collaborative, and cooperative workforce.

I wrote about this topic in a recent SmartBrief on Leadership article. In it, you can learn more about my recommendations on how to prepare your leaders for the upcoming election season.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

The Perils of Charisma Without Character in Leadership

Charismatic leader buttoning suit

In the annals of history and the chronicles of modern times, the rise and fall of leaders provide valuable lessons about the essential traits of effective leadership for current leaders, aspiring leaders, and the organizations that hire and promote them. One recurring theme is the disastrous consequences when charisma precedes character.

Declining Employee Engagement Signals an Opportunity

Unengaged employee at work staring at computer

A sobering report was released by Gallup Research recently: At 30 percent, employee engagement has hit its lowest point in over a decade, dropping an additional three points in the first quarter of 2024 from the end of 2023. That drop equates to another 4.8 million U.S. workers who are now in the “I’ll just do the basics of what I need to do” or “Why should I bother?” camp. This revelation is not just a statistic; it’s a wake-up call for organizations.

Share First, Listen Second: A Guide for Incoming Leaders

Photo of an incoming leader talking to her team

The announcement comes down from above: the current boss is leaving and a new boss from outside the team has been chosen. What if this change takes the team by surprise and little more is shared about the situation? Now, if the current leader has been ineffective or difficult to work under, then this news may come as a relief to the people on the team. Regardless, cue the side conversations and speculation and the range of emotions that come with it, chief among them nervousness. What will this new boss be like? Is the person a command-and-control type who will dictate all sorts of changes? Is anyone’s job safe? Will they be connection-minded, welcoming input and establishing a sense of belonging and collaboration?

Three Tips to Draw Employees Back to the Office

Group of employees talking and brainstorming in an office

Can real-life office connections save lives? Consider this: a chance meeting in an office setting years ago set in motion a vaccine to prevent untold number of deaths due to Covid-19.

Dr. Katalin Kariko and Dr. Drew Wiseman, both researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, got to talking one day about their respective areas of RNA and immunology as they took turns using a copier. That friendly conversation led to a collaboration that ultimately resulted in the mRNA technology used in the first Covid-19 vaccines. For their pioneering work, in 2023 the two were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

People First… Love Them Up!

Smiling leader talking to employee

“People first… Love ‘em up” is a phrase that Alan Mulally has been consistently saying at work for more than 30 years. He said it as general manager of the multi-year project to develop the 777 aircraft at Boeing, he said it as CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, and he said it as CEO of Ford Motor Company as he led the turnaround that brought it back from the brink of bankruptcy to become one of the most profitable automotive companies in the world. When he retired from Ford in 2014, Alan was named by Fortune magazine as one of the top three leaders in the world.

Leaders’ Biggest Mistake in Q1: the Communication Illusion Trap

Business leader talking to his team to avoid communication illusion trap

Alan Mulally, the former CEO who saved Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Ford Motor Company, was recognized by Fortune as the best business leader in the world in 2014. In a series of conversations that I had with Alan, he made a point about communications that is especially relevant in the first quarter of the year. I subsequently discovered this quote in Twenty-First Century Jet in which he elaborates:

Lessons from Holiday Movies: Why We Need More Leaders like George Bailey than Ebenezer Scrooge and Henry Potter

Image from "It's a Wonderful Life"

Holiday movies may not be the first place one might look for gleaning leadership lessons we can apply in the workplace. But if we did, what might we see? Think of a movie and see what comes to mind. Off the top of our heads, from Home Alone you could talk about the need to think out of the box and be innovative when facing adversaries or threats to your territory (looking at you, 8-year-old Kevin). Or you could draw inspiration from Buddy’s commitment to pursuing his vision while adapting to a completely different environment in Elf. Comparing two classics, A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life, highlights the importance of a leader’s character and motivations. Is he or she a connector who cares about others or a disconnector more focused on personal gain?

A Connection Culture Success Story at Yale New Haven Health

Dr. Tooba Kazmi and Patient Services Manager Lauren Thayer of Yale New Haven Health

During the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Tooba Kazmi and Patient Services Manager Lauren Thayer of Yale New Haven Health were tasked to spearhead a novel unit designed to provide care for chronically ventilated patients. The outcome of their dedicated efforts was they achieved record results in successfully weaning patients off ventilators.