Are Your Employees Buying Your Leadership?

In the May 2014 Harvard Business Review article “Blue Ocean Leadership” authors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne elaborated on their take on the issue of employee engagement in the workplace.

Some startling statistics include that from Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace report that just 30% of employees are actively committed to doing a good job and another 50% are just putting in their time for the priority time tracking projects. Perhaps the more concerning stat is that for the remaining 20% who are actively discontent and negatively influence their co-workers and by extension the productivity of your business.

So, what is the solution?  Well it is simple in theory but takes a considerable effort and shift in organizational culture – leadership empowerment at all levels.  If employees don’t ‘buy’ what you are ‘selling’ as a leader, at any level, the result will be disengagement. Now, this isn’t new information, for years the importance of leadership in any organization has been espoused.  So, why is this still the number one problem plaguing the workplace? Simply, education and training are traditionally focused on the high level leaders while front line leaders who are closer to the market, the customer and the workforce interacting with your customer rarely benefit from the kind of leadership coaching and training that would empower them to communicate effectively and work towards bringing out the best in their people.

The Blue Ocean Leadership model highlighted in the HBR article suggests that by applying the Blue Ocean Leadership Strategy at the 3 distinct levels of leadership: senior, midlevel and frontline an organization can significantly improve employee engagement, satisfaction and subsequently the bottom line.

Conventional Leadership Development Approaches

Blue Ocean Leadership

Focus on the values, qualities and behavioural styles that make for good leadership under the assumption that these ultimately translate into high performance. Focus on what acts and activities leaders need to undertake to boost their teams’ motivation and business results, not on who leaders need to be.
Tend to be quite generic and are often detached from what organisations stand for in the eyes of their customers and the market results their people are expected to achieve. Connect leaders’ actions closely to market realities by having the people who face market realities define what leadership practices hold them back and what leadership actions would enable them to thrive and best serve customers and other key stakeholders.
Focus mostly on the executive and senior levels of organisations. Distribute leadership across all three management levels because outstanding organizational performance often comes down to the motivation and actions of middle and frontline leaders who are in closer contact with the market.

So, as is our custom the Kingbridge Insight this week is to ask you to gain some insight into your own leadership: Are people buying what your selling as a leader?  Have you been provided the tools to excel as a leader?  If not……..what are you going to do about that?

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