Going to the source of employee engagement
Thank God It’s Monday (TGIM) is a research project, now in its fifth year, aimed at uncovering just what it takes to create a business that employees love to work for.
We started the TGIM project looking for “leading indicators” of engagement – organizational characteristics (skills) that, if present, augured well for improving engagement levels. We have found this to be a useful and practical approach but we have come to recognise that organizational skillset is in turn strongly predicted by another layer.
Leadership mindset is the leading, leading indicator
What we mean by “leadership mindset” is the internal mental framework that leaders use to interpret, and respond to, their environment and experiences.
As organizational skillset predicts engagement leadership mindset predicts both – how leaders think powerfully influences how employees feel.
While we can’t easily look inside people’s heads we can reliably discern their mindset by observing their behaviour. And the very best observers of leader behaviours are those being led.
Signs of a reactive mindset:
- Have unrealistic expectations and push too hard for perfect outcomes
- Are not happy unless things are done their way
- Seek to please others and gain approval rather than risking transformational change
- Are too conservative and wishy-washy with decision making
- Are emotionally distant and ego driven.
Signs of a creative mindset:
- Foster warm and caring relationships
- Take time to connect with people
- Lead in a manner that is aligned with your values
- Are courageous and speak out directly even on controversial issues
- Tend to see the positive side, even in the worst situations
- Get the job done without the need to draw attention to themselves and their contribution.
At organisations with high levels of employee engagement creative behaviours (as assessed by the employees) shows up at strikingly higher levels than reactive ones.
While our focus on the internal thinking styles of leaders still seems somewhat unique in the engagement field other researchers have nonetheless been finding results that support our approach:
What mental framework are your leaders bringing to your business? Are they leading from a creative or a reactive mindset and how do you believe it is impacting your employee engagement?