Recent findings by Gallup from monitoring the trends over the last 15-20 years show that 85% of the working population today in some of the 30 most developed countries in the world are lacking inspiration when they go to work. How can leaders address this strategically and tap into the potential of true employee engagement?
In our recent Exploring Leaders podcast interview with Leif Fågelstedt, we address this leadership challenge. Leif is an independent communication and strategy consultant who is highly engaged and experienced in this topic. He has a long and impressive career from executive marketing positions in global companies such as IBM and Nokia, as well as from start-ups in various industries. He is passionate about supporting leaders in becoming better at sharing their stories to boost employee engagement.
Today, when the information is coming so quickly at us and we are overwhelmed by various strategies and theories on how to communicate effectively in a complex media and channel landscape, Leif strongly believes that the key challenge for leaders is to communicate in a way that is meaningful, understandable and that makes a difference in the marketplace. However, leaders are often caught up in short-term priorities and fail to create, nurture and share stories on a consistent basis. When there is a lack of purpose and meaning, any transformation initiative will suffer. The digitization and constant requirements for innovation are adding new complexity to the transformation challenge.
How to get started with true employee engagement
Leif suggests that before leaders start going in a new direction, they need to find something to communicate to people to get them inspired. It is key to involve the CEO and HR in this effort to capture the essence of the stories to be shared. Simply put, Leif’s mission is to help leaders and employees have something to talk about. Furthermore, he points to something many of us suspected:
“People do not remember numbers, but everyone remembers stories.
Successful companies succeed in putting their value proposition in the shape of a story,
adding to the likeability of the company.”
According to Leif, leaders should start by asking themselves not only who they are and what they do, but most importantly, what they aspire to become and how this makes a difference in the marketplace. As an example, Leif refers to the work IBM did back in the 90-ties when the marketing focus was shifting towards e-business and gradually over the years added more variants and stories about solutions to make people’s lives easier.
Inspired by brave leaders to introduce new perspectives to common truths, Leif finds his own inspiration by reading. He focuses particularly on learning about the human being and the motivational factors to expand his own understanding. When he started off as a marketing professional, the common practice was to push messages to specific segments of the market. Now it is all about helping people find a better solution than what they currently have. Among his favorites of authors, you will find Jack Trout and Peter Drucker, and he recommends everyone interested in the topic to set aside time to dive into their books which remain remarkably relevant despite the increased pace of disruption.
Inspirational sources and resources
Towards the end of our interview, Leif shares his thoughts about what he still has undone in his professional life. Earlier in his career, he benefited from great mentors himself, and now he is actively pursuing a handful of mentoring relationships, both to help other leaders to benefit from his strategy and communication toolbox, but also to tap into the perspectives and ideas from his mentees. He remains curious about the big transformations emerging on the horizon and is convinced that mission-driven content and stories to inspire people will be key to remain successful as organizations and leaders in the future.
To learn more about Leif’s recommendations and insights, take part of the full episode via the Exploring Leaders podcast. To stay updated with work of the organizations and authors of his choice, you may want to follow the Twitter accounts of @Gallup and @GDruckerForum. If you are looking to explore more opportunities to increase employee engagement, we recommend Vineet Nayar‘s book “Employees First, Customers Second“, a truly groundbreaking book about employee engagement, used by numerous organizations and leaders to successfully implement employee engagement strategies, among them Digoshen Chairman Liselotte Engstam in her previous role as Vice President, Head Nordics at HCL Technologies. We also recommend @KarinVolo’s book “Engage!” to learn more about how various companies are approaching the employee engagement challenge.
Leadership in the future
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These interviews are shared on the blog of Digoshen http://digoshen.com/blog/
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