Engagement Through CEO Eyes

With the UK economy as much as £26 billion worse off because of poor levels of engagement and with only 1 in 3 employees feeling actively engaged, this research comes at a critical time. The nature of organisations and leadership is also in a state of flux. We have for a long time talked about the role of ‘leader’ as though it were static, yet this is far from being true – generational shifts, social and demographic change and the impact of declining trust have all contributed to new and different demands being placed on those who lead.

This research, a year-long study which explores the concept of employee engagement through the eyes of 16 UK CEOs, was commissioned by Engage for Success, a Government-sponsored movement that is seeking to improve levels of engagement and well-being across the UK. The movement is supported by organisations accounting for more than two million employees.

The research sought to get under the skin of the CEO, to find out how leaders define engagement, what stops them from leading in an engaging way and why engagement is not happening more in the UK?

The research reveals that CEOs define engagement as an organisational climate where people choose to give the very best of themselves at work. However, being an engaging leader is hard and requires special skills and attributes. CEOs in this research acknowledge that there is no single ‘right way’ to lead, which opens the path to more individual ways of leading. The research suggests that ‘command and control’ leadership, with its emphasis on organisational hierarchy, has declining relevance and presents engagement as the most challenging part of the leadership job.

When asked what stops leaders from leading engagement, three barriers emerged:

  1. Leadership Capability (e.g. challenges of self-awareness and fear of feedback)
  2. The Leader Themselves (e.g. lack of self-confidence and not showing vulnerability)
  3. Culture, System and Organisational Hierarchies (e.g. short-termism and the focus on results)

Download the report CEO Engagement Report.pdf or contact the research team for more information