Kevin: It’s the term I use to describe a leadership style that is founded on authenticity and transparency and extends to fostering growth, recognition and trust and the primary drivers of engagement.
Vera: Organizational culture, employee engagement etc are things that organizations struggle with. What in your view is the real challenge with getting those right and what might organizational leaders do differently?
Kevin: The real challenge is that C-level leaders don’t usually care about those things. They care more about short-term quarterly profits. And even if they do care, they don’t recognize that great engagement has nothing to do with office perks or parties, and everything to do with the quality of front-line leaders.
Vera: You work has touched over 150 countries- from the perspective of motivation, what are some of the things you’ve found activate discretionary effort/emotional commitment from employees?
Kevin: There are three things that account for the vast majority of how we feel about our work: Growth, Recognition and Trust. For growth, we want to be challenged, to learn new things and to advance in our careers. For recognition, we just want to feel appreciated by our boss and peers. For trust, it goes beyond ethical trust to trusting the leadership to guide us to a brighter future; it’s related to future confidence.
Vera: Some argue that an organization’s job isn’t to make employees happy rather make them effective. This may be simply splitting hairs but can an organization really make all staff happy?
Kevin: Well, happy is not the same as engaged. You can be happy at work, because it’s an easy job or you are goofing off with your friends. Engagement is an emotional commitment to your company; you share its goals and you want the company to succeed. But even with engagement, I haven’t seen a company yet where everyone was engaged, but it is possible to limit the disengaged to only a few people per hundred.
Vera: What advice would you give a CEO who came to you for advice on what to do about disengaged and apathetic staff?
Kevin: Begin by measuring engagement with an employee survey and have a baseline. Then share those results with every single manager including their own team engagement. Provide training and support so managers become better leaders. That’s how you’ll then improve engagement.
Vera: Leaders often have lots to do on any given day. You’ve cracked some time management secrets. Which ones do you swear by?
Kevin: Live from your calendar, not your to-do list. Know what your Most Important Task is every single day. Schedule 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time each morning to work on this task.
Vera: You are involved in quite a range if social causes through your foundation. How do you decide what to bring your leadership to outside of business?
Kevin: It’s actually something I’m struggling with. Lots of good causes out there and limited time and money to commit to them. Hard to know which ones are MOST deserving of my support.
Vera: You’ve won ‘’Best place to work’’ award before- what does such a workplace look like and how does one build such a company?
Kevin: It always starts with hiring the right people—people who fit your values and who actually want to be engaged at work. Then make sure leadership is fostering growth, recognition and trust.
Vera: As a thought leader, how do you ensure you are improving the quality of thinking?
Kevin: I try to read one to two books a week, and numerous blogs, journals and other sources to keep up.
Kevin Kruse is a New York Times bestselling author. His most recent books are Employee Engagement 2.0 and 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management. He was recently named by Inc. magazine as a Top 50 Leadership Innovator. As a keynote speaker and performance coach, Kevin has worked with Fortune 500 CEOs, startup founders, US Marine Corps officers and non-profit leaders. Find out more on Kevin’s work from www.kevinkruse.com
For more information on Vera Ng’oma’s work and resources in leadership, personal and career development and excellence building, click here.