Change is the new normal. Gaining and maintaining a competitive advantage requires the ability to respond and adapt to market pressures with agility and speed. Yet most companies fail to achieve successful, sustained change 70 percent of the time. When leaders attend to the relationship between trust and engagement, they increase the success of their change initiatives and secure competitive advantage.
Engaged employees are committed to and passionate about the vision, mission, and values. They give far greater “discretionary effort” and engage their talents to ensure team success. Unfortunately, only about 25 percent of employees are truly engaged (and only 12 percent are fully engaged)—leading to lost productivity, poor results, and failed change efforts. Exceptional companies with engaged workers experience a 50 percent higher employee and customer retention, 38 percent greater productivity, and 27 percent higher profits (Gallup). Engaged employees are fully committed to organizational success, passionate about what they’re doing, and fully aligned with and supportive of mission and values.
The best leaders assume responsibility for worker engagement: they create a culture in which workers choose to give their whole selves. Leaders don’t engage workers! People engage themselves when they discern and discover that the place they work and the leader they serve is trustworthy.
Creating and maintaining an engaging culture is a challenge of trust between individuals, groups, and organizations. Warren Bennis says, “Trust is the emotional glue that binds leaders and followers together.” Trust creates engaged employees. Employees who trust their leaders and their organizations are creative, willingly take risks, and collaborate. Trust is a real and concrete resource, as real as liquid assets, as concrete as infrastructure, as verifiable as product inventory. Trust can be gained and earned. It can grow, compound and appreciate, and being trustworthy can be learned and mastered.
Extraordinary breakthroughs are produced by engaged people who wake up thinking: “I’m going to make a difference today!” “My job is my passion!” A company that fosters such thought—and creates a culture where people bring their whole selves to the job—has the clear advantage.
Dr. James Dittmar is the Founder, President, and CEO of the 3Rivers Leadership Institute. Prior to this Jim founded the Geneva College M.S. in Organizational Leadership Program in 1995 and served as Chair of the Department of Leadership Studies and Director of the M.S. in Organizational Leadership Program until his retirement in 2015. Should you have any questions, comments or feedback, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.